Ford, FCA to shorten summer shutdown at SUV plants
Correction: This article has been updated to correct wrong information given to The Detroit News. Flat Rock Assembly and Ohio Assembly will have two weeks of summer shutdown.
Two of Detroit’s Big Three automakers are shortening summer shutdowns at key plants in North America that produce profit-generating SUVs, the automakers confirmed Tuesday.
Ford Motor Co. said it will reduce its traditional summer shutdowns — which begin the week of July 4th — from two weeks to one week at four assembly plants in the U.S. and Canada. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said five of its plants in the U.S. and Mexico won’t have any shutdowns this summer, while three others will reduce the downtime from two weeks to one, which will take place in mid-to-late July.
The moves come as consumers are increasingly buying crossovers and SUVs, in part because of cheap gas.
Ford said it will add five non-consecutive weeks of downtime to its Michigan Assembly Plant, which employs about 2,500 workers and produces the slow selling Focus and C-Max. A Ford spokeswoman said executives planned the move since the start of the year in response to industry-wide slow sales for small cars.
“We match production capacity with demand,” Ford said in a statement. “The small car segment is down approximately 10-percent this year, including Focus. Our plan has not changed; we planned for a two-week summer shutdown and five down weeks through the remainder of the year.”
Ford has not yet determined when those additional five weeks will occur.
General Motors Co. would not reveal its North American summer shutdown plans. Earlier this year, GM temporarily shuttered four plants for two weeks in response to a supplier issue connected to the deadly earthquakes in Japan.
GM’s Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant, which builds large SUVs, was shut down for five weeks in May and earlier this month as the plant retooled for new future vehicles.
Some GM facilities may take downtime during what was traditionally a two-week shutdown period around July 4. But the company no longer follows that two-week schedule as a rule. For example, the Lansing Delta Township plant won’t stop production for either of the two weeks, while GM’s Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant will take a week of downtime during the week of July 4. Workers at Lansing Grand River build the Chevrolet Camaro, Cadillac CTS, Cadillac ATS, ATS Coupe and performance variants of the CTS and ATS.
The four Ford plants that will shorten the summer shutdown are: Louisville Assembly, which builds the Escape and Lincoln MKC; Chicago Assembly, which builds the Explorer; Kentucky Truck, which builds the Super Duty, Expedition and Lincoln Navigator; and Oakville Assembly in Canada, which builds the Ford Flex and Edge and the Lincoln MKX and MKT models.
The five FCA plants that won’t have any summer shutdown are: Jefferson North, which makes the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango; Mack Engine; Trenton Engine; Saltillo Van and Toluca Engine in Mexico.
The three FCA plants that will shorten their downtime to one week are: Belvidere Assembly, which makes the Dodge Dart, Jeep Compass and Patriot; and Toledo Assembly Complex, which makes the Jeep Wrangler and Cherokee; which will be down the week of July 18; and Toledo Machining, which will be down the week of July 25.
Staff writer Melissa Burden contributed.