FLAT ROCK, MI – On Thursday, Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) announced that it will begin to produce its Fusion midsize sedan in the U.S. for the first time due to stronger demand. The company also announced that this was implementing a rigorous production-training program to help it avoid quality problems that have plagued other Ford models.
The added training is helping Ford to increase production capacity of the Fusion by more than 30 percent. The added production capacity has meant that the Fusion has been able to gain ground on the best-selling Toyota (NYSE:TM) Camry.
Prior to the production launch in Flat Rock, Michigan, Fusions were made at Ford’s production facility in Hermosillo, Mexico. According to Joe Hinrichs who leads Ford’s operations in North and South America, the company has undertaken ‘an unprecedented level of training for the new workers here’ (in Flat Rock). Flat Rock plant manager, Tim Young, added that in preparation for the new output, each of the plant’s 1,400 new workers trained for 40 hours and included ‘real-life work on engines, real life work on cars but more in a static environment.’ Young added that ‘we took actual conveyers in the factory and installed them over there so people are working on the car in position, just like they’re going to be working on the floor.’
The training was more thorough than previous product launches and reflects the lessons learned from the Escape crossover and Lincoln MKZ sedan launches. The Escape, in particular, has faced several issues including a fuel line defect that prompted the automaker to issue a warning to stop driving the cars until the problem was fixed; while the release of the Lincoln MKZ was delayed due to quality and supply issues.
The Fusion has proven to be intensely popular and ranked as the company’s second bestselling vehicle during the first seven months of 2013 following the F-150 pickup truck. The addition of the Flat Rock facility will increase production to approximately 350,000 vehicles per year.