Ford Motor Co. will lay off about 2,000 workers for almost six months this year as the U.S. automaker retools a Michigan plant to produce Ranger pickups and Bronco sport utility vehicles.
The Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, west of Detroit, will temporarily dismiss workers from around May 7 through Oct. 22, according to a notice Ford filed with the state. The factory that’s been producing slow-selling Focus compact cars and C-Max hybrids is switching gears to begin making the Ranger late this year and the Bronco in 2020.
Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett is shifting away from low-margin sedans and boosting production of trucks and SUVs as American consumers increasingly spurn cars in favor of bigger rigs. Ford is moving production of the Focus compact to China, and the fate of its Fusion family sedan remains unclear after it canceled plans to build it in Mexico. Hackett has said profit will decline this year as the automaker overhauls its lineup, cuts costs and spends on self-driving and electric cars.
“I and my team are not satisfied with this level of performance,” Hackett told analysts in January after reporting fourth-quarter earnings. “We see 2018 as the opportunity to prove to you that we can sharpen operational execution.”
Moody’s Investors Service changed its rating outlook on Ford to negative from stable in January, citing “an erosion in many of the operating disciplines that it established following the 2009 restructuring of the North American auto sector.”
Ford’s shares fell 0.5% at 10:11 a.m. in New York. The stock is down about 17% this year, trailing the 0.1% gain by the benchmark S&P 500 Index.
By Keith Naughton