Ford to invest $400M in Missouri plant

By Reuters
Posted Jan. 18 at 12:46 p.m.

Ford Motor Co. will invest $400 million on upgrades at its assembly plant near Kansas City, Missouri, to build a new vehicle there, the automaker said on Tuesday.

Ford did not say which new vehicle would be made at the plant, which will continue to manufacture F-series pickup trucks. The plant currently has three shifts of workers making the Ford Escape SUV, and one shift making the pickup. Escape production will shift to Ford’s plant in Louisville, Kentucky, starting in late 2011.

Keeping the facility near Kansas City open will allow Ford to retain about 3,750 jobs.

Last week at the Detroit auto show, Mark Fields, president of Ford in North America and South America, said the company would add 7,000 jobs in the United States in 2011 and 2012.

Ford has announced the creation of nearly 4,000 U.S. jobs at its plants in 2011, including about 1,800 in Louisville, and 750 salaried engineering jobs in product development and manufacturing.

IHS Global Automotive analyst Aaron Bragman said the Ford Missouri announcement “follows the trend for automaker investment” after the drastic drop in U.S. auto sales in 2009.

The $400 million investment in the facility Ford calls its Kansas City Assembly Plant will pay for a new body shop, new tooling and other improvements, Ford said. The plant is located in Claycomo, Missouri.

Fields, in a statement issued by Ford Tuesday, said the Missouri investment showed the company is committed to U.S. manufacturing and in working cooperatively with the United Auto Workers union.

The UAW’s Ford representative, Jimmy Settles, said in a union-issued statement: “We are pleased to have the cooperation of labor, business and government working together to retain good jobs in Missouri.”

Missouri government tax incentives helped keep the jobs at the plant.

Shares of Ford were up 0.3 percent at $18.70 in afternoon trading.

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