Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday it will shift 550 jobs to its Kentucky Truck Plant to boost production of its Expedition and Lincoln Navigator vehicles to meet growing demand for its large SUVs.
Growing sales for the Expedition and Navigator are driving a 20 percent production boost at the Louisville plant, the automaker said.
To increase the truck plant’s workforce, Ford said it will shift the jobs away from its crosstown factory — Louisville Assembly Plant, which makes the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC.
Growing demand for large SUVs is fueling the employment boost at the truck plant.
“Kentucky Truck Plant is home to two of Ford and Lincoln’s most successful vehicles,” said John Savona, Ford vice president, North American manufacturing. “After seeing a continued increase in customer demand for Expedition and Navigator, we are boosting production for a second time to meet it.”
Retail sales of the Expedition eight-passenger SUV surged 35 percent last year, Ford said. Navigator sales grew 70 percent in 2018, posting the vehicle’s best sales year since 2007, it said.
The truck plant’s production will increase after the summer shutdown in July, Ford said.
To produce even more Expeditions and Navigators, Ford said it has increased the line speed at Kentucky Truck Plant. After a production review by a group of salaried and hourly workers, the plant added more workstations and split up some tasks, the company said.
Ford also said it’s launching a new “Better Big” marketing campaign for the Expedition.
Ford’s announcement that it’s boosting production of its large SUVs is the latest signal of the auto industry’s shift to SUVs and trucks.
The last compact car recently rolled off the line at a massive General Motors assembly line in Ohio, part of a major restructuring in which the automaker plans to shed as many as 14,000 workers and shift its focus to making trucks, SUVs and electric and autonomous vehicles.
Toyota announced last week that its Georgetown, Kentucky, facility will get a $238 million investment to produce hybrid versions of Lexus ES 300 sedans starting in May and the RAV4 SUV starting in January 2020.
This story has been updated.