Ford Trims Production at Five Plants in North America as U.S. Sales Slow -- Update
By Christina Rogers
DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday it will temporarily idle production lines at five North American plants, including three in the U.S., the latest in a series of moves by U.S. auto makers to cope with slowing vehicle sales and rising industry capacity.
Ford says it is scheduling downtime at the factories to whittle down unsold-car inventory on dealer lots. Collectively, these five assembly plants, two of which are in Mexico, employ tens of thousands of workers, who will be put on temporarily layoff during the down weeks. The production hiatus ranges from one to three weeks, depending on the factory.
The move mostly affects factories building Ford's passenger cars, including the subcompact Fiesta and bread-and-butter Fusion sedan, whose sales have been hit hard by the shift in consumer demand to larger crossovers and SUVs.
Ford is also taking down a line at its Kansas City Assembly plant, where it builds the Transit van, to fix a recall disclosed in June.
Ford executives have signaled throughout the year production cuts may be needed to counter slowing U.S. sales. While it has largely resisted permanent layoffs, opting instead to schedule downtime when needed, the company's inventory levels have crept up in recent months.
General Motors Co., meanwhile, has cut thousands of jobs this year at several passenger-car plants in the U.S. in response to a pullback in consumer demand for small cars and family sedans.
"We are continuing to match production with consumer demand, as we always do," Ford said in a statement.
Ford has made other cuts this year, temporarily laying off 130 workers at its assembly plant in Avon Lake, Ohio. At the time, the company said the layoffs were expected to last until a newer version of its heavy-duty commercial trucks launched in September.