The Ford Motor Company is sinking $1 billion into the company and adding more jobs to plants in the Chicago area to expand production of the redesigned Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator sport utility vehicles.
The expansion comes as the American company makes cuts overseas and shifts its lineup to make more SUVs, crossover-utility vehicles and trucks and away from sedans and sports cars, which are no longer popular with American drivers.
This new effort will add 500 jobs at Ford’s Chicago-area Assembly and Stamping plants. That will bring the total number of employees at the two factories to 5,800, the company said Thursday. Ford is building a new body shop and paint shop at the assembly plants and plans to make major changes to the final assembly area. The company also plans to install some new manufacturing technology, including 3D-printing tools and robots.
That’s not all…Ford is also spending $40 million to upgrade the facilities for employees, including new LED lighting and cafeteria updates, new break areas as well as parking lot security upgrades.
The plants that the company is investing in not only make the Explorer and Aviator, they also make Ford’s Police Interceptor, an SUV modeled on the Explorer.
Ford is undergoing an $11 billion restructuring that will cut its salaried workforce of 70,000. It is also shrinking thousands of jobs in Europe.
Ford is not alone in their endeavor to reshape its business in the face of a changing industry. Rival General Motors is in the process of cutting production at plants in the United States and Canada as part of its own turnaround plan.
GM has been faced with underutilized factory capacity in plants that had heavily focused on building less popular sedans and compact cars. GM said it has offered jobs to hundreds of hourly workers at new plants building vehicles in growing segments, such as SUVs and crossovers.