December 20, 2014

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New Ford F-750 to be built at Avon Lake plant

BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

The new F-750, which will be built at the Ohio Assembly Plant, was unveiled on Friday. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

AVON LAKE — Ford Motor Co. officials on Friday unveiled the new F-750, which will be built at the Ohio Assembly Plant early next year.

The big reveal took place at the Avon Lake plant in front of employees, Ford and union leadership, and state and local officials.

“We said we wanted to invest here and continue building a strong, bright future for our employees. That future starts today,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas.

Ford officials have been planning for production of the F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks at the plant since 2011, when a deal was made between the company and the United Auto Workers union. On Friday, Ford announced that the company is moving forward with that plan.

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor climbs down after checking out the new Ford F-750 during an unveiling at the Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor climbs down after checking out the new Ford F-750 during an unveiling at the Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

As part of the deal, Ford will shift production of the 2016 Ford F-650 and F-750 trucks from Mexico to the Avon Lake plant. Ford officials announced that $168 million will be invested into retooling the plant for production.

The trucks will be completely designed and built by Ford with a Ford powertrain and engine.

The engine is paired with a commercial-grade six-speed 6R140 automatic transmission with an available power takeoff provision to run accessories, a dump body, crane and other vocational equipment.

Ford remains the only automaker to offer a gasoline engine for medium-duty trucks, according to the company. The 6.8-liter V-10 is available for both F-650 and F-750 models.

“You get to build the biggest, baddest truck we make,” Hinrichs said to employees, after unveiling the F-750 at the plant.

Both vehicles were initially shown at an auto show in Indianapolis with favorable results, Hinrichs said.

In addition to the F-650 and F-750, the plant will continue to work on the E-Series cutaways, as well as ambulance, motor home and stripped chassis. Hinrichs said the economy and whether plant workers are able to work well as a team will determine future production at the plant.

In January, Ford announced plans to lay off more than 900 workers at the Ohio Assembly Plant, but a plan with the UAW saved 1,408 of the 1,605 employees there. Under the agreement, the Ohio Assembly Plant will provide rotating shift opportunities in two-week cycles.

The rotation would begin during retooling of the plant for the new product line, as Ford balances out E-Series van production at the plant in favor of the new Transit van, which will be produced at the Ford Kansas City Assembly Plant.

UAW Local 2000 Chairman Tim Rowe said the future looked bleak for the Ohio Assembly Plant in 2011, but he is optimistic after securing production of the F-650 and F-750. Rowe said studies into bringing new product lines to the Avon Lake plant are underway, and those studies are “going well.”

UAW Regional 2B Director Ken Lortz, who visited the plant for Friday’s announcement, said Ford’s investment in the Avon Lake plant shows that it will have a bright future.

“If there’s a comeback story, I think it’s (the Avon Lake plant),” he said.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.