Ford Scrambles to Add Production Volume For 2018 Expedition and Lincoln Navigator
The manufacturing facility that produces the all-new 2018 Ford Expedition and its Lincoln Navigator cousin is adding volume to keep up with customer demand for the fullsize SUVs. The Kentucky Truck Plant, which builds the SUVs and the F-Series Super Duty, will see some upgrades and another $25 million investment from Ford to help with demand.
The investment, which brings Ford’s total outlay in Kentucky to $925 million, will allow the company to increase assembly line speed thanks to 400 new robots, enhanced work efficiency analytics, and a new 3D printer to help workers make parts and tools faster. These upgrades will help the company meet last fall’s projected 25 percent production target for fullsize SUVs.
According to Ford, both the Expedition and Navigator are spending an average of seven days on dealer lots before being sold, a number that handily beats common industry goals of 30 to 45 days. Furthermore, the company claims that 29 percent of Expeditions sold are the top-spec Platinum trim level, which has a healthier profit margin than volume models like the XLT. Navigator mix is even better, with 84 percent sold in Black Label or Reserve trims. That resulted in an average Navigator transaction price that was $21,000 higher in January 2018 than January 2017.
However, while high demand is a good thing for Ford and Lincoln, limited stock is bad for their dealers. That’s why Ford is boosting production of its fullsize SUVs, giving dealers more trim level, color, and configuration variety for particular customers. In addition to the plant investments, Ford is offering Kentucky workers overtime and voluntary weekend shifts. It’s a fine balance, because if Ford produces too many SUVs, its dealers will be inundated with stock that doesn’t sell quickly enough.
However, with the Expedition and Navigator selling as strongly as they are, that probably won’t be a problem any time in the near future.