Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday it will invest $1.3 billion and create 2,000 new hourly jobs at its Kentucky Truck Plant to support the all-new aluminum 2017 Ford Super Duty heavy-duty pickup.
The money will be spent on an all-new body shop, facility upgrades and retooling to the 6 million-square-foot plant. Kentucky Truck currently employs about 4,400 workers who also build the Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.
“With the introduction of the all-new Ford Super Duty, America’s best-selling heavy-duty pickup, we expect to continue growing our truck leadership,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of The Americas, said in a statement. “Through this investment, we are continuing to show our commitment to Kentucky and the city of Louisville, as well as bringing to customers industry-leading trucks to help them take care of business and earn a living.”
The plant has already begun the upgrades and they’re scheduled to be complete in the first quarter of 2016.
The $1.3 billion investment is part of the automaker’s previous contract with the United Auto Workers and does not count toward the promised $600 million in investments at Kentucky Truck over the course of the new four-year pact that was ratified November 20. But the 2,000 jobs are part of the new deal’s promise to create or retain 8,500 jobs between now and 2019.
Ford said some of the new positions could be filled with current employees, but a majority have not yet been filled. Those interested in applying have to do so in person at the Kentucky Career Center.
“Adding new jobs and more investment at Kentucky Truck Plant not only secures a solid foundation for our UAW members, but also strengthens the communities in which they live, work and play,” Jimmy Settles, UAW vice president, National Ford Department, said in a statement. “Such success highlights our members’ hard work and dedication to building world-class, quality vehicles like the Super Duty.”
Ford in 2014 invested $80 million to Kentucky Truck to meet growing demand for Super Duty and $129 million at nearby Louisville Assembly to support Lincoln MKC production.
Kentucky Truck has produced more than 5 million Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks since it was introduced in 1999.
The new Super Duty is 350 pounds lighter than the current steel-body truck. The weight savings from the switch to a military-grade aluminum body was greater than 350 pounds, Ford said, but it took advantage of the weight savings to make the steel frame stronger and making the axles, springs and suspension beefier.
The new Super Duty has a redesigned front end that sets it apart from its smaller F-150 counterpart and includes custom grilles for four of its five trim levels — XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum.
The steel frame for the first time is fully boxed and includes six crossbeams that makes it 24 times stiffer than the old frame, Ford says.
It’s the first major update since the Super Duty’s introduction in 1999, and Ford executives say it’s more revolutionary than the smaller F-150’s switch to aluminum in 2015.
Dearborn Truck and Kansas City Assembly also received significant investments to retool those plants for the aluminum F-150, but Ford executives say the changeover won’t be as extensive for the Super Duty since they’ve been through it already.
The Super Duty will go on sale late next year.