DETROIT (Dec. 8, 2008) — Against a backdrop of plunging fuel prices, Ford is restoring two shifts and overtime production of its re-engineered 2009 F-150 pickup.
With gasoline under $2 a gallon, demand for Ford's big pickup is up. Dealers in some parts of the country are complaining to Ford that they're running out of F-150s.
It's a far cry from the situation in late June, when gasoline prices were around $4 a gallon and pickup sales plunged. At that time, Ford killed two shifts of F-150 production and delayed the launch of the 2009 model to avoid inventory gluts.
Ford now plans to restore a shift of F-150 production at its suburban Kansas City, Mo., assembly plant next month, spokeswoman Angie Kozleski said. In late October, the company announced that the other shift, at its Dearborn, Mich., plant would return in January.
In the meantime, overtime production is planned this month in Kansas City to meet demand, the plant's UAW Local 259 reported on its Web site.
"Frankly, a lot of regions and dealers in those regions are really concerned about their truck inventory," Jim Farley, Ford Motor Co. group vice president of marketing and communications, said last week. "We're starting to see quite a few regions where they're trading trucks across state (lines) now because we've run out of '08s, and the '09 shipment is not as fast as they would want."
The 2009 F-150 went on sale in October. Through November, U.S. sales of the F series fell 25.4 percent from the year-ago period. But in the tough November, when Ford's overall sales plunged 32.6 percent, the pickup posted the narrowest drop — 18.6 percent — of any Ford-brand vehicle line.
Ford doesn't expect F-series sales to return to previous levels, Kozleski said. Through November, Ford sold 473,933 F series. In the truck's peak year of 2004, it sold 939,463 units.