Ford Trucks and SUVS are selling like hotcakes which means vacations will be cut short for workers this summer. Tuesday, Ford announced it will shorten its summer hiatus at 16 of its North American plants in order to meet high demand for the F-Series, Edge, Escape and Explorer. Instead of the usual two-week break, the automaker will just shut down for one.
On June 29th, all Ford plants will shut down for annual maintenance and retooling. A week later the six assembly plants in Chicago, Dearborn Truck, Kansas City, Kentucky Truck, Louisville, and Oakville will reopen along with ten of their supporting powertrain and stamping plants.
This is not the first time that Ford has kept plants running during the normal summer break in order to meet demand. Rather this is the third – yes third – straight year that this has happened. Automotive News speculates that this is due to the continuing high demand for its utility vehicles and trying to meet it without adding fixed capacity.
“To meet surging customer demand for our top-selling trucks and utilities, we are continuing to run our North American facilities during the traditional two-week summer shutdown in order to add close to 40,000 units. Six of our assembly plants will build for an additional week in order to ensure we’re getting more of our vehicles into dealerships,” says Bruce Hettle, Ford Vice President, North American Manufacturing.
Those additional 40,000 units will mainly consist of the F-150, Edge, Escape, and Explorer. In April, F-150 sales were marching off dealer lots at a quick pace of 20 days. Similarly that month, Edge sales were up 78 percent and were quick stepping off lots in 10 days. Ford reports that the Escape and Explorer also have a tight supply which is only heightened now that the new 2016 Explorer is on sale.
On the other side of the spectrum, the plants that will remain closed for the full two weeks are ones that build Ford’s smaller cars and hybrid models. The break in production will help balance the supply to the lack of demand for these smaller, fuel efficient, vehicles. This lack of demand has also led Ford to cut 700 jobs and one of the tree shifts at the Focus and C-Max plant in Michigan.
As the lowest gas prices for summer in six years begins, expect to see utility vehicle demand high as Ford continues to work hard to supply drivers with the cars, or trucks, they want.