Ford idling four plants over the next few weeks

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. on Monday said it will temporarily shutter four plants — two in the U.S. and two in Mexico — as it matches production to demand and attempts to meet year-end inventory targets.

The Dearborn automaker said its Kansas City Assembly Plant, which builds the profitable F-150 pickup, will be closed for one week starting next Monday. Its assembly plant in Louisville, which builds the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC, is down this week, and will also be down the week of Oct. 31.

Ford also said it’s idling its Hermosillo and Cuautitlan plants in Mexico this week. Hermosillo makes the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans, while Cuautitlan makes the Fiesta subcompact.

The temporary shutdowns come the same week that Flat Rock Assembly restarts production in Michigan after a week-long downtime for Mustang production.

“We continue matching production with demand to ensure we are at our targeted inventories by year end,” Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said in an emailed statement.

Ford likely has high inventory for some of its slow-selling cars. Fusion sales were down 9.1 percent through September, MKZ sales were down 0.4 percent and Fiesta sales have plummeted 28 percent, according to Autodata Corp.

Ford’s seeing an overall slowdown in the market that’s even affecting its venerable F-150, despite sales being up nearly 6 percent year-over-year.

“During our second-quarter financial call, we said we expected the overall retail industry to decline in the second half of the year from the same period last year,” Felker said. “We also said to expect to see some production adjustments in the second half — this is one of them.”

Ford says the first nine months of 2016 represents its best F-Series sales since 2006. It soon plans to start production of the 2017 model, which features a new EcoBoost engine paired with a new 10-speed transmission. Kansas City also makes the Transit van, but its production will not be affected during the down week, Felker said.

Ford’s SUVs are selling well. Escape sales are up 1 percent and Lincoln MKC sales are up 3 percent, but Felker said Ford’s adding the two weeks of downtime in Louisville “to ensure we are at our targeted inventories by year end.”

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