Ford Motor Co. has completed the $200 million retooling of its Kentucky Truck plant in preparation for production of Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator fullsize SUVs that will be moved from another facility.

The plant, which currently assembles F-Series Super-Duty pickups, received a new flexible body shop and added a second trim shop. The body shop equipment comes from the now-shuttered Norfolk, VA, assembly factory.

Third shifts have been added in the body, paint and stamping facilities.

The retooling paves the way for the conversion of the former Michigan Truck plant, which previously built the fullsize SUVs, to retool and begin output in 2010 of the next-generation Ford Focus C-car. The plant was renamed Michigan Assembly to reflect the change.

“We are moving very quickly to transform our manufacturing operations to allow us to respond to consumer demand,” says Jim Tetreault, vice president-North American manufacturing. “We were able to swiftly retool Kentucky Truck with a flexible body shop, which sets the stage for the transformation of Michigan Assembly plant.”

Some 450 workers recently transferred to Kentucky Truck, bringing the number of workers to about 4,000, Ford says, noting the added employees primarily came from the nearby Louisville Assembly plant and the former Michigan Truck plant.

New workers received orientation and several days of on-the-job-training, says Joseph Bobnar, Kentucky Truck plant manager.

“We did a lot of front-end work, including workstation setup and sending employees to the Michigan Assembly plant to review their assembly process,” he says. “We have a group of employees here known as product specialists, and these employees, along with our launch engineers, are key to our new production.”