While much of the global auto industry continues to shed employees, Ford Motor Co. said last week it would call back 1,000 workers to a truck plant in Dearborn, Mich., saying it expected growing consumer demand for its new F-150 pickup truck.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the news came amid new reports from analysts that a possible merger between General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC would likely costs tens of thousands of salaried and hourly employees their jobs.
Ford’s move to restore part of its work force at its Dearborn truck plant – the workers are set to return in January – came as one of its senior executives, President of the Americas Mark Fields, said the U.S. sales slump hasn’t bottomed out yet.
But Jim Farley, Ford’s sales chief, said the company believes there is pent-up demand in the marketplace, especially among truck customers who need a pickup for their job. The auto maker has historically counted on the sales of SUVs and trucks to boost its bottom line.
Ford had five shifts of workers at two plants – Dearborn and Kansas City – before axing two shifts this summer as the demand for pickups dropped. Starting in January, it will have about 4,000 workers building F-150s.
Ford has also unveiled TV commercials for the F-150, which start running on the Fox network Sunday. The fast-talking ads with flashing words promote the F-150’s capabilities, saying its customers believe a truck “ain’t a luxury. It’s a way of life.” The tagline of the campaign is “it’s not a new truck; it’s a new F-150.”
Ford’s move to bolster production of its best-selling pickup comes as several auto industry analysts question the strength of the market segment. Late last month, CSM Worldwide said it expected the U.S. pickup market to continue to shrink in 2009 and 2010 to about half of the segment’s 2001 sales peak of 3.3 million units, despite launches of an all-new F-150 and its competitor, Dodge Ram.