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Chicago, Oakville get new Lincolns

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Automotive News

Chicago, Oakville get new Lincolns

Production targets are closer to reality than past programs

Amy Wilson

Automotive News / February 6, 2006 - 6:00 am

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DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. plants in Chicago and Oakville, Ontario, will get the new Lincoln sedans and minivan replacements once slated for the doomed Atlanta plant.

And the automaker says it now will give suppliers lower, more realistic volume projections for new vehicles.

Atlanta, which ends production later this year, is one of 14 plants Ford intends to close through 2012, eliminating up to 30,000 plant jobs. It's all part of the Way Forward North American restructuring plan announced Jan. 23.

Taurus ends Aug. 31

Ford had spent nearly two years planning a major overhaul of the Atlanta plant after the death of its current product, the Ford Taurus sedan.

But the automaker ultimately deemed it couldn't afford to keep Atlanta open. That plant, one of Ford's most productive, is scheduled to end Taurus production on Aug. 31, though it could be briefly extended, says a source at the plant.

Here are new locations, timing and volume projections for the products once intended for Atlanta:

# The first of two Lincolns, the production version of the MKS sedan concept shown at last month's Detroit auto show, will be assembled in Chicago beginning in February 2008, suppliers said. Code-named d385, its volume is projected at about 50,000 units annually, they said.

"That is definitely going into production pretty much as shown at the auto show," said another supplier who attended the meeting.

The location change means the Job 1 date will slip by several months. At one time, Ford had planned to launch the vehicle in Atlanta in fall 2007.

# A derivative of the MKS, also for Lincoln, will go into production later in 2008 or in 2009. The production site for the derivative also is likely to be Chicago, although Ford didn't confirm the final assembly location, suppliers said. Volume is forecast at 15,000 units annually, they said.

That derivative is the car formerly known by the e386 program code, which originally had been described as a large Town Car-sized sedan. Ford told suppliers it would reclassify it as a smaller, d-size vehicle and provide a new program code at a later date. Examples of d-size vehicles include the Ford Five Hundred sedan.

'People mover' coming

# A minivan replacement based on the Ford Fairlane concept is now set to go into production in Oakville beginning in February 2008. Ford calls the vehicle, code-named d471, a "people mover." Ford is forecasting volume at 103,000 vehicles annually, suppliers said. That likely will include 12,000 hybrids, one supplier said.

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