Ford moving production out of Mexico for first time

Ford Motor Co (F.N) on Wednesday will start building its medium-duty F-650 and F-750 commercial trucks at a Cleveland-area plant, moving production out of Mexico for the first time.

The shift to the 41-year-old plant in Avon Lake, Ohio means that about 1,000 workers represented by the United Auto Workers union will keep their jobs, Jimmy Settles, UAW vice president, said in a statement issued by the company. There are about 1,400 workers at the Avon Lake complex.

Ford is currently in negotiations with the UAW for a new national contract affecting about 52,300 workers. Just before those talks began last month, Ford announced it would move production of small cars Focus and C-Max from a plant in Wayne, Michigan. Ford has not confirmed UAW comments that the production is shifting to Mexico.

“Working with our partners in the UAW, we found a way to make the costs competitive enough to bring production of a whole new generation of work trucks to Ohio,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of North America and South America.

The commercial trucks from 2000 until earlier this year were built by a joint venture of Ford and Navistar International Corp (NAV.N) called Blue Diamond in Escobedo, Mexico.

The trucks are often sold as cab-and-chassis skeletons and customized by purchasers to serve a wide range of uses from beverage delivery to ambulances to oilfield services.

The 2016 model year trucks go on sale later this summer, which is a few months later than Ford had announced when it first announced the shift of production to Ohio in March 2014.

For every F-650 or F-750 truck sold to a fleet buyer, another six Ford trucks are also sold to the same customer, said Mike Levine, Ford truck spokesman. He said that in 2014, the company sold 9,627 F-650 and F-750 models, which was 11 percent more than the previous year.

The trucks will sell from $56,705 for a gasoline-powered regular cab F-650 to $76,690 for a diesel-powered tractor crew cab. Prices include delivery charges.

The Avon Lake plant was where Ford for years built Econoline vans. In recent years, the name was changed to E-Series vans, which are no longer produced. Now, Ford builds its Transit vans in Kansas City, Missouri.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit; Editing by David Gregorio)

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