Ford to shutter light-truck plants

Two major Ford Motor Co. plants producing the Ford Ranger compact pickup as well as full-size Ford F-150 pickups will close in 2008 – part of Ford’s new “Way Forward” initiative designed to cut costs to shore up the struggling automaker’s bottom line

Two major Ford Motor Co. plants producing the Ford Ranger compact pickup as well as full-size Ford F-150 pickups will close in 2008 – part of Ford’s new “Way Forward” initiative designed to cut costs to shore up the struggling automaker’s bottom line.

The plants are the Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul, MN, which builds the Ranger and the Norfolk Assembly Plant in Norfolk, VA, which builds F-150 pickups.

In addition to Norfolk and Twin Cities, other plant closings announced to date include Wixom (MI) Assembly, St. Louis Assembly, Atlanta Assembly as well as Ford’s Windsor, Ontario, Casting and Batavia (OH) Transmission plants. This is all part of Ford’s plan to cut its labor force by 25,000 to 30,000 workers.

The blow is especially hard at Norfolk, which employs 2,275 people, as Ford earmarked $375 million to expand that plant back in 2001 to help support booming production of the F Series. In the first quarter this year, Ford sold 199,801 F-Series trucks, up more than 5% compared with 2005, and the company said it is on track to sell more than 900,000 F-Series pickups for an unprecedented third year in a row. Sales of the compact Ranger are slumping, however. They dropped 15.9% in the first quarter this year to 22,378 units.

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