As Ford prepares for the next generation of its popular Escape SUV, plans for production have shifted eastward from its current location in Kansas City, Mo., to Louisville, Ky.

Ford's decision to move Escape production comes as the current model is due for a refresh in early 2012. Plans to revamp its twin, the Mercury Mariner, have died as the Mercury brand is winding down production.

The decision was also influenced by the Louisville plant's capability to produce compact cars, which could serve as the basis for the next-generation Escape. According to local union president Jeff Wright, the last of the current generation Escapes will be produced in late 2011, with a transition planned for Louisville by the beginning of the following year.

"I think if they haven't already started to retool [Louisville], it's close," Wright said.

The Escape is currently produced at Ford's Claycomo plant outside Kansas City, which also produces the F-150 and a third Escape variant, the Mazda Tribute. Time will tell as to which Ford product will fill the vacant spot in Missouri.

Source: The Detroit News