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Ford Canada spared from plan to cut most car models

The company's Oakville, Ont., complex assembles SUVs like the Ford Edge, Ford Flex, Lincoln MKX and Lincoln MKT


May 4, 2018
The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press

The Ford Edge, currently manufactured in Oakville, Ont.

TORONTO—Ford’s decision to discontinue almost all of its car models in North America within two years will leave its Canadian operations intact, since they are focused mainly on sport utility vehicles and light trucks.

The car segment of automotive sales has been shrinking since 2012, while sales of sport utility vehicles have grown over the same period—a trend that’s expected to continue.

“So, we are focusing our efforts on vehicles customers prefer,” Ford Canada’s Lauren More said in an email.

The company’s Oakville, Ont., complex currently assembles the Ford Edge, Ford Flex, Lincoln MKX and Lincoln MKT—all sport utility vehicles.

Meanwhile, Ford’s two plants in the Windsor area make larger engines for F-Series pick-ups, E-Series vans and the V8 for the Mustang sports car, which will continue to be made in Michigan.

Apart from the Mustang, the only other car model that Ford will be making in future will be a new compact crossover called Focus Active, starting in 2019.

Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, said his union’s members at Canadian Ford plants won’t be affected in the short term by the accelerated cost-cutting program.

“It’s not going to have any impact based on our current product portfolio in Oakville” Dias said in an interview. “Also, if I take a look at our Windsor engine plants . . . I think we should be all right there as well.”

However, Dias said there are longer-term questions about what Ford will do with the Mexican plants that make the Ford Fiesta subcompact and the Fusion mid-sized sedan and the Chicago plant that makes the Taurus full-sized sedan.

“It’s pretty difficult to make that prediction today based on volumes,” Dias said from Washington, D.C., where trade talks were being held between Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Negotiations surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement is another factor, he added.

“I don’t think you’re going to see Ford make any sort of major announcement in the facilities where they’re making the Fiesta and Fusion until after NAFTA’s done.”

Ford said Wednesday—when it announced first-quarter results—it’s aiming for an additional $11.5 billion in cost cuts and efficiencies, bringing the total to $25.5 billion expected by 2022.

Ford previously predicted $14 billion in cuts by 2022.

Bob Shanks, Ford chief financial officer, told reporters that he expects one-third of the cuts to be achieved by the end of 2020.