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Ford to Increase Production on the South Side

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 26, 2010 3:00PM

Kevin Robinson/Chicagoist

Ford Motor Company is expected to announce today that it will add a second shift at its Torrence Ave plant, on Chicago's South side. The auto manufacturer will shift production of the redesigned Ford Explorer from Louisville, Kentucky to Chicago, adding some 1,200 jobs to the under-utilized assembly plant. That likely means adding a second shift to production at the plant, as well as increased work at the Chicago Heights stamping plant. The downsized and more fuel-efficient SUV is expected to be on the market by this year's fourth quarter. Auto industry experts say the new redesigned Explorer, which will be built on a car platform, and getting 20 to 25 percent better gas mileage than it's predecessor, which was built on a truck platform. John Wolkonowicz, an analyst with IHS Global Insight said that the new Explorer will be a "high-volume, high-profit, car-based crossover."

Governor Pat Quinn, who is running for re-election in a close primary race, will be on hand at the announcement, as the move to Chicago was precipitated by tax breaks authorized by Quinn. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Ford will spend almost $400 million to bring the plant online for production of the vehicle. The Torrence Ave plant makes the new Ford Taurus and the Lincoln MKS. The new Taurus is selling better than previous models. Ford CEO Alan Mulally has said that he expects the automaker to be profitable in 2011, although some Wall Street analysts expect the company to report a profit this quarter. The Louisville plant will be retooled for production of the new Ford Focus.

If you've ever wondered what the South side assembly line looks like, check out our trip to the factory last year!