LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it plans to invest $80 million in its Kentucky truck plant to churn out more F-Series Super Duty trucks. The ramped-up production will add 350 jobs, the automaker said.
The investment will boost production capacity by 15 percent, or about 55,000 units, as the company retools and upgrades the plant, Ford said. Improvements are planned in the body and paint shops, it said.
"This is a sizable leap forward in capacity," said Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas.
Ford said the increased plant capacity is needed to keep pace with strong demand for the popular truck line. Truck sales are a good gauge of the broader economy's health, Hinrichs said.
"This is really a testament to the underlying strength of the U.S. economy and demand for our industry-leading F-Series trucks," he said.
The truck plant, which opened in 1969, employs about 4,000 people. The plant produces F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 Super Duty pickups, as well as the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.
With the increased production in 2014, the plant will build the 5 millionth Ford F-Series Super Duty truck, the company said. The truck was introduced in 1999.
The 350 new workers were chosen from a large pool of temporary Ford workers who helped maintain production levels during summer vacations for permanent workers, Hinrichs said. All 350 have been hired and will be on the job by April 1, he said.
The new hires will start at the entry-level salary of $15.78 per hour, the company said.
The investment is Ford's latest in Louisville, where the automaker has two production plants. The plants have a combined workforce of about 8,500 hourly and salaried employees.