Ford to close Cleveland casting plant, delay engine line startup

Ford to close Cleveland casting plant, delay engine line startup
DETROIT --Ford Motor Co. today said it will idle a casting plant in Cleveland in 2009 and will delay the production start of the 3.5-liter V-6 engine there.
Ford is getting out of the casting business, said Joe Hinrichs, Ford's vice president of North America manufacturing.
About 1,100 workers will be affected by the idling. The plant makes cast-iron components for engines used in Ford's full-sized pickups, vans and SUVs.
Because of slow sales, Ford is delaying for a year the start of production of its 3.5-liter V-6 at Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1. Ford's engine plant in Lima, Ohio, is the sole source of the 3.5-liter V-6s used in the Ford Edge, Lincoln MKZ and MKX.
Hinrichs said Ford plans to reopen Cleveland Engine No.1 next spring, when production starts on the Ford Flex and several other vehicles that use the 3.5-liter engine.
The moves are part of Ford's Way Forward restructuring plan. The plan, updated last fall, calls for Ford to shut 16 plants. The company is working to bring its manufacturing capacity and employment levels in line with vehicle sales.
The Cleveland casting plant will be the 10th that Ford has closed. Hinrichs would not say which other plants are being considered for closing.
He said the production delay at the Cleveland Engine Plant resulted from missing sales projections on several key new vehicles. "It has nothing to do with delayed launches," Hinrichs said. "This engine is a critical part of some of our new vehicle launches."
He added: "When you look back over a couple of years ago, when we forecasted the volumes, we had to make the decisions on doing the timing on when you have to retool" an engine line "and have that capacity available. Our forecasted volumes haven't materialized to the extent we though they would."
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