Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) is revving up production of sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) as consumer demand surges as well as adding to investment in its Kentucky truck plant.
The automaker announced Monday that it will boost production targets by 25% this year as demand for the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator grows, while investing $25 million into its Louisville, Ky., plant, which makes the vehicles.
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That facility will increase assembly line speed and help the company reach its new production goals. The new injection of money brings Ford’s total investment at the plant, which opened in 1969, employs more than 8,400 people and also produces Super Duty pickups, to $925 million.
“People are buying more SUVs,” Joe Hinrichs, president of global operations at Ford, told Maria Bartiromo in an interview on “Mornings with Maria” on Monday. “They are buying large SUVs, and for us, we want to be able to give them the efficient Navigator, more production and produce even more because we finally have a great product in our marketplace to take on some of our competitors.”
The production boost at the Kentucky plant comes as Ford looks to boost automotive profit margins, which shank to 3.7% in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 5.7% during the prior year, and have put the automaker behind General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU).
The Expedition and Navigator are two of the more expensive vehicles Ford makes, starting at $51,695 and $72,055, respectively.
“Kentucky has been great to us,” Hinrichs said.
Ford reported adjusted earnings of $0.39 per share in the fourth quarter of 2017, missing Wall Street analyst expectations.
The automaker’s stock is down more than 15% so far this year.