Automaker to start building pickup truck


Watch as Ford Motor Co. flexes its manufacturing muscles, where a new Ford F-150 rolls off the line every 53 seconds at the Rouge Complex in Dearborn.

Detroit Free Press

DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. is now in its final days of building the 2020 Ford F-150, as the second of two factories that makes the bestselling pickups in North America prepares to shut down for the transition to the all-new 2021 version of the truck.

Company officials flew from Detroit to Kansas City on Tuesday to celebrate the moment, as autoworkers end production and then spend two weeks retooling the massive manufacturing operation that will produce the first F-150 redesign since 2015.

“The F-150 is not just a launch — it will be a dominant part of American culture. And we are proud to be building it,” Gerald Kariem, vice president and director of the UAW Ford Department, told the Free Press. The son of a foundry worker, Kariem started on an assembly line at age 20.

Gerald Kariem was named vice president and director of the UAW Ford Department on Jan. 16, 2020 (Photo: UAW)

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No product yet? No problem.

“Customers are extending their leases and waiting for the new F-150,” said Mohamad “Catfish” Baidoun of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, a Ford salesman at Taylor Ford in Taylor, on Tuesday. 

“People believe in the history of the truck so much, they’re ordering it without seeing it, touching it or sitting in it,” he said.

Dearborn Truck began building preproduction prototypes Sept. 21.

The plant at Claycomo, Missouri, will start up again Oct. 26.

Early builds will be tested and evaluated for quality. An F-150 can range in cost from $30,635 to $75,945. It’s expected to land in dealerships by the end of the year.

It’s a multibillion dollar franchise and the envy of the industry.

A 2020 F-150 shown here is rolling down the assembly line on October 6, 2020 at Kansas City Assembly Plant as one of the last produced before switching to the 2021 F-150. (Photo: Amanda Wilhite)

Production and sales numbers are mind-numbing even for the current model — with nearly 400,000 F-150 pickups built so far this year through September at plants in Dearborn and Kansas City, said Kelli Felker, Ford global manufacturing and labor communications manager.

“Changing from one model vehicle to an all-new model is hard work for the plant and for the employees. There is an immense amount of planning, followed by critical employee training on how to build the all-new vehicle,” she said. “With an F-150 rolling off the assembly line approximately every 53 seconds, all of our employees know what they do is important. They know it’s go time and they’re ready.”

During the formal celebration in Kansas City on Tuesday, Ronald Green, who works in the F-150 trim department, said, “I’ve been here for 43 years now. It was my uncle who helped to get me the job out here and I have been grateful for that and have never looked back.”

John Savona, vice president, Ford North America Manufacturing, replied, “I find it remarkably coincidental that the amount of years of service that you have with Ford Motor Co. is the exact number of years that the F-150 has held the leading vehicle record in America. That is significant.”

More than 8,600 hourly employees build the F-150 in Michigan and Missouri, all represented by the UAW. 

Eddie Hall III of Royal Oak, general manager of Royal Oak Ford, said the unusual virtual launch in June inspired by safety protocols related to the coronavirus pandemic succeeded in drawing strong interest from potential buyers viewing livestreams on different media platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

“F-150 has always been a really big nameplate,” he said. “Ford plans on selling over 1 million a year. Between the capabilities and the technology and comfort features, people are really excited.”

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard: 313-222-6512or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid. Read more on Ford and sign up for our autos newsletter.

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