Kentucky Truck Plant Gets $65 Million Makeover

By Anne Marshall

(LOUISVILLE) -- City leaders and local Ford workers hope $65 million in upgrades at Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville may help save it from future ford shutdowns. Ford retooled the plant and added new equipment so it would be ready to make the new 2008 Ford Super Duty Truck that was unveiled Thursday in Texas. WAVE 3's Anne Marshall has the latest.

The upgrades to the Kentucky Truck Plant started a couple months ago, and the plant's 5,000 workers hope the multi-million dollar investment is a sign that Ford considers the plant as a key facility with a long future.

For once, good news for local Ford workers, as they find out their plant has had major investments -- investments that could mean the difference between having a job or not.

Ford officials say it will make jobs easier, while improving quality, and the new equipment arrived just in time for the unveiling of the automaker's new 2008 Super Duty F-Series Pickup Truck.

The F-Series, built at the truck plant, has been the best selling pickup for nearly 30 years. However, through August, sales are down close to 13 percent. Still, workers remain optimistic

"A lot of your businesses, have to use these trucks, said Russell Sullivan, who has worked at the Kentucky plant for 12 years. "That really hasn't tapered off. The individual sales have tapered off for a while, but they're starting to pick back up."

Sullivan says the recent upgrades give the plant the capability to build just about any Ford model if F-Series sales continue to slide.

Sullivan is hopeful the plant's retooling will keep it competitive and viable.

"It's interchangeable," Sullivan said. "They can build any model at any time on the equipment they got just by changing a few things out."

But Ford spokeswoman Anne Marine Gattari says that's not exactly the case. "It would take a great investment in the body shop."

Ford won't say if it has plans for more investments to make the plant more versatile, but workers there will take what they've been given, especially at a time when so much is being taken away.

"I think we're going to be OK," Sullivan said.

A Ford spokesperson says the truck plant is a very valuable plant to the company. The improvements made here are similar to upgrades made to the Louisville Assembly Plant, so it could produce the new 2006 Explorer.

Still, while the upgrades are similar, Ford says the two plants can't make each other's models.

Online Reporter: Anne Marshall

Online Producer: Michael Dever