Future of Ford’s Escape plant in doubt ahead of union talks

Forecasters say the case for closing the plant is thin.

Ford hasn’t shuttered a North American assembly plant since Twin Cities Assembly in St. Paul, Minn., closed in 2011. It was a delayed casualty of Ford’s Way Forward restructuring plan that was unveiled in 2006 to cut costs.

While Farley is reorganizing the company under a new plan called Ford+, the company is solidly profitable and far from the dire situation it faced going into the Great Recession.

Although Escape and Corsair sales have fallen in recent years, both are high-volume crossovers that compete in large segments. Should Ford phase them out, it could still renovate the plant for a different product.

“No one’s going to be giving up volume,” Brinley said. “The units that plant has capacity for have to be used somewhere.”

But Fiorani said potential closure can’t be completely ruled out, especially when Ford is readying a new assembly plant in Tennessee as part of a $5.6 billion manufacturing complex.

“When you add capacity, it always puts an older plant at risk,” Fiorani said. “Louisville is a large plant, and it has an established work force. But on the negative side, it’s approaching its 70th birthday.”

Dunn said the workers he represents at Louisville Assembly would be open to building any type of vehicle, including EVs, should Ford choose to retool it.

“We just want to make sure we’re building Ford Motor Co. products,” Dunn said. “We want these jobs to be career jobs. Whatever it is, we want to remain open and viable.”

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