’s Flat Rock assembly plant recently received $555 million to construct a fully flexible body shop capable of building multiple vehicles and to install a new paint shop.
Flat Rock to build 100,000 Fusions annually, Hinrichs says at Job One today.
FLAT ROCK, MI –today begins production of the Fusion midsize sedan at its joint-venture plant here, which should account for about 100,000 units annually, a top executive says.
Joe Hinrichs,president-The Americas, says the Hermosillo, Mexico, facility, which previously was the sole source for Fusions, will build about 250,000 units a year, bringing total Fusion capacity in North America to 350,000.
Fusion sales should see a boost in coming months with the extra Flat Rock capacity, Hinrichs says, noting deliveries were impacted by capacity constraints. However, he declines to quantify how much additional volume the auto maker is expecting.
“We’re focused on balancing consumer demand with transaction prices and probable growth,” Hinrichs says at a Job One event at the plant. “Right now we know there’s more demand for our product, so we’ll see where that goes, but we’re not chasing a number. We don’t know how far is up, but certainly this capacity allows us to find that out.”
Through July, the Fusion’s U.S. sales were up 13.4% from year-ago to 181,668 units. Days’ supply stood at 53, less than the industry norm of 60, according to WardsAuto data.
Hinrichs says the Fusion will continue to be profitable despite paying United Auto Workers union wages at the Flat Rock plant, whose union workers earn more than their Mexican counterparts.
“We wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t profitable,” he says.
The hybrid version of the Fusion will not be built at Flat Rock. Hinrichs says doing so would spread the supply base too thin. He declines to reveal whether a third product will be added to the plant, which recently received $555 million to construct a fully flexible body shop capable of building multiple vehicles and to install a new paint shop.
The factory is running at about 41% of capacity, WardsAuto data shows, which leaves plenty of room for additional models.
“We’re going to continue to look at where we need to move products around to leverage all our assets to meet growing demand for all our products,” Hinrichs says, adding Flat Rock now is capable of building up to six different vehicles. “We spend a lot of time on manufacturing planning.”
Ford trained 1,400 new workers using simulated hands-on experience at a center within the Flat Rock plant to prepare for assembly of the Fusion.
Some employees who underwent training had been working part-time or were displaced from other Ford plants, but about two-thirds are new hires who will receive an entry-level wage outlined in the auto maker’s agreement with the UAW.
Because of the number of quality glitches with recent Ford models, including the Escape and Lincoln MKZ, greater attention is being paid to early Fusion production models at Flat Rock.
“We’ve done an unprecedented level of training for the new workers here,” Hinrichs says. “Our focus is on quality and will be throughout the whole launch.”