Ford takes jobs from Europe, gives to Louisville


Posted on October 23, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 27 at 6:52 PM

(WHAS11) - After months of cutbacks at Ford's Louisville plants, tonight there’s reason to celebrate.




Sources at Ford Motor Company say a new vehicle currently made in Europe will soon roll off the assembly line in Kentuckiana-- bringing plenty of jobs with it.
Officially, Ford representatives say they're not ready to make the announcement. The local union President says it's also news to him, but it sure would be good news.

The bottom line though-- a new vehicle made in Louisville will mean hundreds, if not thousands of new jobs.

One worker at Ford’s Fern Valley Road Plant high-fived me when we shared the news.

Bloomberg reporters in New York and Detroit first broke the story. Developments from sources high-up at Ford Motor Company say the “Kuga” a crossover SUV currently made in Germany will, instead, beginning in 2011, be built right here in Louisville.

Bloomberg reporter Deborah Kostroun told us, "Barclays Capital Auto analyst Brian Johnson says the transition makes sense because Western Europe is not a particularly cheap place to make cars. He estimates Ford's labor costs in the US could be about 10 dollars less per hour than in Germany."
An estimated 80,000 Kugas will be assembled here then shipped back to Europe.

The positive news for the Fern Valley plant does come just days before workers will have to vote on yet another round of concessions to help the struggling automaker.

"As long as they don't take our money, we'll give up some concessions we just don't want to give up any money. People are trying to stay out of foreclosures now, and keep what they have. If you downgrade our pay it's going to make it a little tighter," one worker told us.

Still, workers and city leaders alike believe the Kuga and the work it brings gives reason for optimism.

Metro Councilwoman Madonna Flood says,”I think it looks good on the horizon for the City of Louisville, the workers at Ford Motor Company, and who knows, maybe new jobs down the road?"

Other workers at Ford leaving for the afternoon exclaimed, "I think that's wonderful," as another woman agreed, "Yes, I’m tickled. Whatever they can bring I'll be right here building them."
One Ford employee loved the thought of jobs returning to the US from Europe, "I hope they keep doing it. If they keep doing it we'll be alright."

Ford had already announced the Escape and the Mercury Mariner will also be built here in Louisville.

It’s too early to say exactly how many new jobs the Kuga will bring, but it will mean jobs and stability for the plant. A plant that, right now, is facing more cuts next week. It will be 2011 before the Kuga begins production.