Ford Motor Co. is considering a plan to move F-150 Flareside production out of Missouri and into Oakville, Ont., to make room for the Lincoln Blackwood sport/utility-pickup, currently scheduled to go into production late in fourth quarter 2000. Oakville is the only other plant in the Ford system that builds a flareside version of the F-150.

Ford is worried that Kansas City Assembly in Claycomo, MO, will have serious capacity issues should sales of the '01 F-150 SuperCrew, Ford's new full 4-dr. pickup, take off when it officially goes on sale in late January.

Connie Gutowski, chief program engineer for F-150 SuperCrew, says Kansas Assembly has capacity to build 200,000 SuperCrews annually. Total truck capacity at the plant is 250,000 units. The facility currently is building 45 SuperCrews an hour to fill the dealer pipeline and could go to 55 per hour if necessary, Ms. Gutowski says.

The SuperCab/SuperCrew mix is expected to be about 60/40 in favor of SuperCab. In addition to the SuperCrew and SuperCab, Kansas also builds the F-150 Flareside pickup, and soon will add the Lincoln Blackwood. Ford says annual Blackwood production will be under 20,000 units.

Discussions still are ongoing concerning whether to use real blackwood or man-made materials for the Lincoln's outer bed panels. The Blackwood concept shown on the auto show circuit more than one year ago used a thin layer of real wood, covered with a lacquer-like material. Magna Symatec will produce the Blackwood box.

The Lincoln Blackwood will be built on the same frame as the new F-150 SuperCrew, which has the same overall length as the F-150 SuperCab but has rear doors that are 12 ins. longer. The seatback angle in the SuperCrew also is improved from the SuperCab and there is 4 ins. more knee room, Ford says. The slightly larger interior makes SuperCrew about 100 lbs. heavier than the SuperCab.

The ride on the SuperCrew is similar to the SuperCab, but engineers were able to reduce “freeway hop” of the bed by staggering the rear shocks.

SuperCrew shares some of its parts with the Expedition, including the foldable rear seat, rear doors and power moonroof, the first pickup on the market to offer the option.

The bed is steel; the outer bed panels are composite plastic supplied by Cambridge Industries Inc. An optional stainless steel bed extender can be flipped into place with the tailgate down, lengthening the 5.5-ft. box to a full 7 ft.

Shortly after the vehicle goes on sale, Ford will offer an optional rear seat entertainment center that features a flip down video screen in the headliner. In April, Ford says it will offer head restraints for rear seat passengers, too.

SuperCrew comes in just two trim levels, XLT and Lariat. The 2-wheel-drive XLT SuperCrew will base at $26,755; The 4-wheel drive version at $29,310 and the 4WD Lariat at $31,790. Adjustable pedals will be standard on all models.