WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. – Ford Motor Company announced it will return to full production Monday, which is two weeks earlier than planned.
It’s been more than three months since Ford has operated at full capacity.
When they shut down due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), automakers said they would ramp up slowly, cautiously and safely. That process appears to be moving along as Ford brings back laid off third-shift employees at several plants.
Ford’s statement Friday showed an eagerness to get back to business, saying, “We are pleased to be able to return to our normal operating pattern in the U.S. on Monday, which is sooner than expected, because our workforce and suppliers are able to support. The safety of our workforce continues to be our top priority.”
Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs said it’s music to the ears of dealers.
“Dealers are screaming for vehicles, especially trucks and sport utility vehicles,” Krebs said. “For some brands, I’ve never seen supplies so low, and I think demand has been stronger than anyone anticipated.”
Ford won’t be changing line speeds. They will be the same as regular production.
The company will add third shifts at the Dearborn truck plant, where they make the F-150, the Kentucky truck plant, where they make the Super Duty and the Expedition, and the Chicago assembly plant, where they make the Ford Explorer, Police Interceptor Utility and Lincoln Aviator.
“Those should be really popular vehicles right now because SUVs are popular with consumers,” Krebs said. “We see it on our website. We are seeing historic levels of shopping for trucks and sport utilities.”
So far, the United Auto Workers union says the Big Three automakers are operating with proper safety protocols. They are monitoring the situation closely.
Fiat Chrysler is also going to get back up to full production Monday. It’s opening the Belvedere, Illinois, plant to a second shift. That’s where they make the Jeep Cherokee.
Earlier this week, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said she expected GM to be at full manufacturing capacity by the end of the month.