Ford Motor Co. is making an $80-million investment in its Kentucky Truck site in Louisville to hike production capacity of Super Duty pickups by 15 percent. Once the upgrades are completed, the site could build 55,000 additional units. Ford will add 350 jobs as part of the expansion of the site, which builds F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 Super Duty pickups as well as with the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs.
Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, said in a statement that the demand for Super Duty pickups has grown "substantially." The site’s upgrade will include "significant automation improvements" of its body and paint shop. The upgrades are to be completed by March, Ford spokesman Mike Levine said.
As to whether Ford would build aluminum Super Duty pickups, Levine said the carmaker will "always use the right material for the right vehicle." "The average age of a truck that's out there is around 11 years old. We have customers who waited until the economy started to recover to buy a new a truck, so we're meeting demand for our customers who need a brand-new heavy-duty pickup or chassis cab," Levine said.
Sales of large pickups in the US have been on a boom as housing and construction markets recover. In 2013, sales of full-sized pickups in the US surged 17 percent to 1.9 million units. Ford logged an 18-percent jump in US sales of the F series to 763,402 units in 2013. "We are happy to be adding new jobs at Kentucky Truck plant because we know the impact these jobs will have on the local community," Jimmy Settles, UAW vice president in charge of the union's Ford Department, said in a statement.