Dodge Helps Prevent Dealer Mark-Ups on Challenger SRT Demon
As Honda deals with the growing discontent among its consumer base on the aggressive mark-ups dealerships are putting on the Honda Civic Type R, Dodge is determined not to irate its consumers by instituting a unique dealership ordering process for the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. The process itself was designed to prevent the experience prospective Civic Type R customers are going through as they see the prices of the hot hatch skyrocket to almost double Honda’s own asking price.
A big part of Dodge’s allocation plan for the Challenger Demon is to place priority on dealerships willing to sell at or below the automaker’s suggested retail price. Specifically, these dealerships stand to get priority scheduling and receive lower serial-numbered cars as opposed to those who are putting mark-ups on the price of the highly sought-after muscle car. On top of that, dealerships who have sold more than one SRT Hellcat in the last 12 months are the only ones who are eligible to receive a Challenger Demon. And to make it in even more difficult for these dealers, those who meet the previous requirement will be allocated a certain number of models depending on how their sales performance for the Charger, Challenger, and SRT Hellcats are. As for those dealerships planning to sell the SRT Demon above the automaker’s MSRP, they’ll get theirs “after priority production is completed.”
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Koenigsegg Is All Out Of Regera Supercars
In case you’re in the final stages of formalizing a payment plan to pay for the $1.9 million Koenigsegg Regera supercar, you might need to call a halt to the proceedings. Your luck just ran out. See, Koenigsegg only produced 80 examples of the Regera, and all are now accounted for. Word of the “disappointing” development comes straight from Koenigsegg, with a post on the company blog. The car Koenigsegg describes as a “tour de force of technology” is officially sold out.
It’s an impressive achievement to sell $152 million worth of Regeras in such a short amount of time. Remember, the 1,500-horsepower supercar was introduced just 15 months ago at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. Considering its price and outright exclusivity, it’s amazing to think that all 80 units now have buyers. There is some good news, though, if you’re still in denial about missing out on the cars. Koenigsegg didn’t identify those who scored one, but it did indicate the possibility of finding any of the 80 Regeras in local dealerships. That could mean that an unspecified number of these supercars were bought to be resold. You’ll definitely have to pay a bigger premium for these cars than you intended, but hey, that’s the price you have to pay for waiting longer than you should have to get yours.
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Five Awesome Vehicles from Barrett-Jackson’s 2017 West Palm Beach Auction
The Barrett-Jackson auction recently went down in West Palm Beach, Florida, and while the auction of the first-ever 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was my main focus, there were plenty of other vehicles that fought for my attention. For two days I walked the 100 acres of the South Florida Fair Grounds looking at iron from every decade in motoring history. There were old Rolls Royces, Mercedes, and even a few Ferraris. Just feet away were iconic American muscle cars with hot-cammed V-8 thumping out unburned hydrocarbons and more than a few classic pickups and SUVs.
Of course, you know Barrett-Jackson is one of the largest traveling auctions in the country. It hammers bids on thousands of classic vehicles every year, some with million-dollar price tags. Barrett-Jackson visits locations including the Northeast, Las Vegas, Scottsdale, and obviously West Palm Beach, each year. The auctioneers, staff, and equipment all travel. The vehicles are generally more regional, with tons of locals and residents of nearby states looking to sell their stuff. The variety is nearly limitless.
Also limitless is my taste for history and cars. Combine the two, and I’m lost in a dizzying whirlwind of want and desire. Sadly, I wasn’t registered to bid (my wife might say thankfully). That didn’t stop me from looking, though, and look I did! Here are my five favorite vehicles from the auction.
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Pops’ Rants: Cadillac Sucks, Ferrari Is a Hypocrite, Civic Si Gets Turbo for Nothing
Have you noticed how today’s automotive strategy is built around gibberish? I swear cars are more about PR talk than anything else. Take Cadillac, for instance, which spent recent years blabbing about how it will get back on the horse in the luxury market with new vehicles with better everything. Well, it’s 2017 and Cadillac still sucks. It sucks so bad that the XT5 crossover outsells the company’s entire sedan lineup. In march, it sold 5,280 XT5 crossovers compared to 4,701 ATS, CTS, XTS, and CT6 sedans combined.
Yeah, I know, crossovers are a big deal now. But you know what? The XT5 isn’t much of a Cadillac. It’s just a bigger hatchback Chevrolet thingy with fancier styling and extra features inside. The CT6 is a true Cadillac, but 1,000 units a month ain’t gonna cut the mustard. But hey, 1,000 CT6s sold in the U.S. in one month is definitely better than sales of 761 examples in Europe in 2016. Even Lamborghini sold more cars on the old continent. A better chance of running into a Lambo then a Cadillac in Europe, now that’s how you know you have a problem buddy!
Another thing that grinds my gears these days is the hypocrisy surrounding Ferrari. Just a few days ago Sergio Marchionne said an all-electric Ferrari may become reality in the future, with the brand looking to join the Formula E series. This comes from the same man that labeled the Ferrari EV as an "obscene concept" a while back. He also said "you’d have to shoot me first" before such a supercar would be developed. Well, he just pointed a shotgun at himself. It goes to show that you can no longer trust company executives these days. And what’s the deal with banning the pink color from the lineup? It’s not fitting for your "whole ethos" you say? What does that even mean? Are you talking about the same ethos that sold Ferraris to Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton? In that case, pink would definitely hurt the ethos. And a few butts...
Speaking of which, what’s the deal with the new Civic Si? Is this thing supposed to fill the gap between the regular model and the Type R? Sounds like a fine idea, but this isn’t something you can do with 205 horsepower. Especially when the Type R has 306 horses. The really annoying thing is that the new engine is only as powerful as the one in the previous Si. And we’re talking about a turbocharger here. Yeah, so the new Civic is lighter and performance is better, but come on Honda, give people that can’t afford the Type R something to work with. It’s like the executives voted to frustrate Civic Si owners with just a mild improvement on a car that’s significantly better chassis- and tech-wise. For the first Si to use turbocharging, this car is a big disappointment. I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up with this strategy of keeping things tempered. A 250-horsepower Si wouldn’t kill the Type R, but it would make customers happier and render the Golf GTi and Fiesta ST useless.
If I wouldn’t be so lazy in the morning I’d definitely accept heading Honda’s market strategy department.
You know what else seems cool but we won’t get to enjoy it to its full potential? Lynk & Co.’s new concept sedan. Lynk & Co. is a Chinese brand own by Geely, the same firm that acquired Volvo a few years ago, and it’s about to unveil this crazy four-door. When it comes to Chinese products I’d rather stick to Zhajiangmian (Google it!), but this concept sedan is one I’d very much like to drive. Just look at it! It’s got so much muscle, suicide doors all around, and a sporty silhouette. And it’s all built around Volvo’s latest architecture. But you know what? I won’t get to drive this thing and neither will you. Because concept cars either remain concepts or go into production looking like crap. And like Trump likes to say, you can’t trust the Chinese anyway!
Finally, the healthy discounts that Chevy is offering for the SS nowadays remind me that the sedan has been discontinued and there won’t be a successor since the Holden Commodore it is based on is dead. Well screw you Chevrolet! You finally had THE performance sedan and you just screwed things up. "But, but Holden is no longer building cars in Australia," you might say. Shut up, that’s a lame excuse! There’s plenty of ways to develop one here in the States, but no, GM would rather do a Corvette SUV instead. And don’t get me started on the new front-wheel drive Commodore... It’s a good thing Dodge keeps milking the Challenger and Charger to deliver no-nonsense muscle cars.
2016 Electric Vehicle Sales in the U.S. [INFOGRAPHIC]
Electric cars have technically been around since 1837 when a chemist named Robert Davidson built an electric car that was powered by galvanic cells. But, the first highway-legal electric vehicle didn’t hit the market until 2008. Since then, interest in electric vehicles has increased slowly but steadily, and in 2017 there are at least 25 PEVs now available on the market. This includes models like the Tesla Model S and X, Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, Mercedes C350E, and the Volvo XC90 90 T8 PHEV, among others.
So, what is a PEV, really? A PEV is a subset of electric vehicles that includes all-electric or battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), and electric vehicle conversions of hybrid electric vehicles and conventional internal combustion engine vehicles. But, are PEVs actually taking a hold in the automotive market or are they set to see a decline as they did in the early 1900s? Well, we’ve put together an infographic to detail the electric vehicle market statistics here in the United States for the year 2016, including market growth, most popular models, and the number of sales by state. So, let’s take a look at the infographic in detail and talk a little more about it.
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Ford Says Trump Presidency Could Boost Truck Sales
Ford Motor Company’s president of the Americas, Joe Hinrichs, says Trump’s presidency could spark big growth in sales for the pickup truck segment. Hinrichs cites Trump’s pro-growth and promise of extensive infrastructure revitalization as factors, which could spark truck demand.
“If the infrastructure investment in the United States takes off as part of the conversation with the new administration, that certainly could help the industry and the business,” Hinrichs said at the Automotive News World Congress.
Ford sold an impressive 820,000 F-Series trucks in 2016. That marks the F-Series’ highest sales since 2005. Ford is currently chasing the 1 million annual sales mark for the F-Series, having almost reached the goal in 2004 with more than 930,000 units sold in the U.S. Adding the 145,409 F-Series trucks sold in Canada that year technically pushes Ford to its goal, but Ford undoubtedly wants to claim the title for sole U.S. sales.
While Hinrichs’ optimism is well founded in an a-political statement regarding economics, it just seems odd for a Ford executive to be commenting positively about a Trump administration after the flack Trump gave Ford on the campaign trail over its plan to relocate small car production from Michigan to Mexico. As we reported, Ford canceled the plans after Trump’s November victory, vowing to invest in American manufacturing.
Part of that boost will come with the upcoming 2019 Ranger pickup and 2020 Bronco SUV. Both were officially announced at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, though no concept vehicles or even renderings were shows. Ford is also divulged it will bring five new utility vehicles to the U.S. by 2020, including the Bronco. And though initial speculation pegged the iconic nameplate as being a rebadged Ford Everest, Hinrichs said the Bronco will be “true to its heritage” and “you’ll recognize it as a Bronco.”
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Ford’s Medium Duty Truck Sales Up 59 Percent, Best Year Since 1997
Ford is experiencing a major success with its new 2016 F-650 and F-750 medium duty trucks. Since their launch in August of 2015, the trucks have sold 10,160 units, representing a 59-percent increase in year-over-year sales. It was 1997 when Ford last had this much gain in its medium duty segment.
“We’re seeing growing interest in the new tractor from beverage and hauling fleets,” says Kevin Koester, Ford medium-duty truck and Super Duty fleet marketing manager. “Giving our customers the choice of two exclusive powertrains, available across all body styles and designed specifically for the unique needs of the vocational truck market, has really helped drive sales of our new trucks.”
Ford credits its sales growth to big improvements with the F-650 and F-750. They include a quieter, more insulated cabin, multiple frame designs and wheelbase choices to suit a wide variety of customers, and powertrain improvements that include both gasoline and diesel engines backed by Ford’s heavy-duty automatic transmission.
The F-650 and F-750 remain the only medium-duty trucks to offer a gasoline engine, the 6.8-liter V-10. Added to that is the option for a CNG fuel system, giving customers the choice between running standard gasoline or Compressed Natural Gas. The diesel engine is familiar to Super Duty customers – the 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel. Ford offers the engine in three stages of tune. The base tune makes 270 horsepower and 675 pound-feet of torque. The mid-rage tune boosts power to 300 horses and 700 pound-feet of torque. Those doing extremely heavy lifting will want the 300-horse, 725 pound-feet version. Fleet bosses also love Ford’s five-year/250,000-mile warranty on the Power Stroke.
“Towing and rental customers have embraced the gas engine, and others are looking at this powertrain for more severe service applications,” Koester says. “Our diesel customers are praising the quietness of the 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel engine. Not only is it up to 45 percent quieter in the cabin at idle than the outgoing model, it’s so quiet that customers have told us that there have been times when they’ve approached the truck in front of the grille and didn’t even realize it was running.”
While NVH levels aren’t generally selling points for commercial trucks, the quite operation certainly isn’t a detractor.
Ford also builds the F-650 and F-750 at its Ohio Assembly Plant near Cleveland, having moved production from Mexico in late 2015. The automaker invested some $168 million in the Ohio plant before beginning work on the F-650 and F-750.
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Toyota Expanding Tacoma Production in Tijuana
Toyota is investing $150 million into its Tijuana, Mexico assembly plant in an effort to increase the production capacity of the Tacoma midsize pickup. This comes in response to the high demand Toyota says it’s experienced for the Tacoma.
The investment will push production from roughly 100,000 units to around 160,000 units annually. The investment should be fully realized and production in full swing by late 2017 or early 2018.
Toyota has already added a third shift to the Tijuana plant back in April of 2015, allowing it to run 24 hours a day Monday through Friday, with two shifts on Saturday. Toyota has also added a Saturday shift at its San Antonio assembly plant, which produces the bulk of Tacomas and every Tundra pickup.
“Demand for trucks has grown exponentially,” Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz said. “By leveraging our manufacturing facilities’ availability and expertise, we can be nimbler and better adjust to market needs in a just-in-time manner.”
Automotive News reports Tacoma sales were up four percent in 2016 through August despite it losing market share to the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, and new Honda Ridgeline. The Tacoma dropped from holding 51 percent of the midsize pickup market to 43 percent. Nevertheless, Toyota’s David Crouch, the Vice president of administration and production control at the San Antonio plant, says the automaker hopes to regain market share with the increased production.
Crouch told AM that Toyota dealers don’t have enough pickup inventory on the lot to tempt shoppers to buy. “Obviously, one of the biggest challenges that we have for Tundra and Tacoma is we’re capacity-limited. We could sell a lot more trucks right now.”
Having the supply to meet consumer demand is obviously a huge part of doing business, and for Toyota, it seems business is doing exceptionally well.
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Jeep Launches Sales of Wrangler, Grand Cherokee in India
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has official begun selling the U.S.-built Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee to the Indian market. It’s part of FCA’s push to make Jeep a stronger global brand, with a concentration in China and now India. Both products compete with high-end vehicles from Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, and Audi, while wearing a price tag nearly three times larger than U.S. pricing.
The Wrangler Unlimited, for example, will cost the equivalent of roughly $107,000, while the EcoDiesel-powered Grand Cherokee Limited will cost around $140,000. The range topping Grand Cherokee SRT commands a whopping $167,000.
This comes after Jeep squared away a $280 million partnership with Jaguar Land Rover’s parent company, the India-based Tata, to build an assembly plant in Ranjangaon, India for the construction of the Compass, Renegade, and upcoming compact A-segment Jeep. These smaller, lest costly Jeeps will still bring a premium when they begin selling next year.
With over 1.2 billion people in India, the market represents a huge potential selling ground. It, along with China, will go far in helping Jeep achieve its goal of 2 million annual worldwide sales by the end of 2018. Combined, China and India will account for roughly 500,000 of those sales. The remaining sales will come from Jeep’s traditional markets like the U.S. and Europe.
“The heart of that market is still very, very low-priced, dominated by local manufacturers,” Manley told Automotive News. “Even when global manufacturers break into that marketplace, it is with their lowest-cost platforms. All the signs are that, at some stage, India is going to develop and develop strongly, which is why we need to be there.”
Despite most Indian buyers purchasing low-cost vehicle options, there are the plenty of high-earners wanting luxury vehicles. And while Americans might not consider the Wrangler particularly luxurious, Land Rover Defenders were sold at a high premium on U.S. soul – showing the relationship can flow both ways.
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Tesla Offering Two-Year Lease for Model S and Model X
Tesla recently fell under criticism for overstating figures for the first and second quarters of 2016. Now, Tesla has announced that for a limited time, you can get a Tesla Model S or Model X under a two-year lease program. And, by limited time, I mean you have to do it by September 12, or you’re out of luck. This obviously drops the cost of owning a Tesla a little bit, but how much?
Well, we looked into it. A Model S under a two-year lease requires a $6,000 down payment, but the $2,500 deposit that is due on ordering is included as part of the down payment. Add in the $695 acquisition fee and the first month’s lease payment of $593 for a total of $4,788 due at signing. This gets you a 24-month term and 10,000 miles per year. This is, of course, for the Model S 60 with rear wheel drive – the least expensive model available. Going with the Model X is a little more expensive. It will set you back $4,925 due at signing with a monthly lease payment of $730.
On top of the initial money spent and the monthly lease payment, you’ll also be required to pay a $395 disposition fee when returning the vehicle. It is also important to know that the vehicle can be returned within the first 90 days of the contract for any reason, and Tesla will waive the remaining lease obligation.
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Nissan Frontier Sales Jump 73 Percent in July
The 2016 Nissan Frontier might be the oldest midsize pickup in the U.S. these days, but that’s not stopping customers from buying them. Nissan announced the Frontier posted a 72.7 percent year-over-year increase in July sales. That’s impressive. July 2016 sales are listed at 7,244 units. That’s far more that July 2015’s number of 4,194. It’s a difference of 3,050 trucks.
Nissan sold an impressive 62,817 Frontier pickups in the 2015 calendar year, but is quickly catching up with 52,255 Frontiers sold in 2016 as of the end of July. That leaves a gap of 10,562 units before the Frontier outsells itself over 2015. And with five months left to go, the likelihood is extremely high.
The Frontier’s highest sale this decade came in 2014, with 74,323 units moved. While there’s a disparity of 22,068 units between the Frontier’s current 2016 sales and 2014’s total sales, it’s completely possible Nissan will surpass the mark. Divided out, Nissan would only have to sell 4,414 Frontiers per month before December 31.
Looking holistically, June 2016 posted even better year-over-year sales. The Frontier sold 84 percent better than it did in June of 2015, with 8,166 examples moving off the lot verses 4,437 units in June of 2015. In fact, every month of 2016 has shown year-over-year gains from 2015 – though none as drastic and June and July’s numbers.
It’s in comparison to its rivals at Toyota and Chevrolet that Nissan’s sales look weak. Toyota sold 179,562 Tacomas in the 2015 calendar year while Chevy moved 84,430 Colorados. Still, there are folks buying the Frontier despite its age and relative lack of sophistication. We’ll jump into the reasons why below.
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Internal Review Of FCA Finds Evidence In Sales Padding Allegations
Following Volkswagen’s debilitating and outright embarrassing diesel emissions scandal, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles may now find itself with its own scandal after a 2015 internal review ordered by FCA executives on allegations of sales padding unearthed documents saying some dealerships had reported thousands of vehicle sales in the U.S. with no actual buyers.
Citing multiple sources, Automotive News is reporting that 5,000 to 6,000 vehicles had been reported as sold by dealerships and subsequently unwound, a term used to let customers out of a deal. The sources added that the sales numbers were intentionally inflated, reflecting earlier allegations made by two dealers in a civil lawsuit filed against FCA back in January 2016. Apparently, the alleged sales padding was done to help FCA continue its current run of 75 consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases.
FCA’s U.S. sales head, Reid Bigland, reportedly put a stop to the practice following the review, but those calls only lasted temporarily as the practice continued in the wake of “competitive pressures” brought about by the increase of FCA’s field staff.
Multiple government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Department of Justice are already investigating these allegations, which if proven true, could turn into the next automotive scandal and perhaps leading to plummeting stocks for FCA.
For its part, the automaker has acknowledged that a federal investigation is ongoing. The automaker hasn’t elaborated on the finer details of the investigation, presumably opting to keep its mouth shut in preparation for a court defense.
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Ford To Leave Japan and Indonesia by 2017
Ford Motor Company has announced to its dealership networks in Japan and Indonesia that it will cease operations by the end of 2016, the Associated Press reports. This comes as slumping sales and tight government restrictions lead to 2015 being the driest year for Ford in recent memory. The U.S. automaker sold a mere 11,614 units in both countries.
Despite being the third largest auto market, Japan only purchased 5,000 Ford cars in 2015. However, Ford isn’t the only automaker with slow sales in Japan. Imported vehicles account for only six percent of new car sales. This move to end operations in the country will end a 40-year relationship and eventually close the 52 dealerships in operation. Ford has promised to continue honoring warranties and services for Ford owners.
Much of the same can be said for the island nation of Indonesia. Ford only sold 6,103 new vehicles there in all of 2015. In both counties, Japanese vehicles reign supreme in sales. Ford spokesman Neal McCarthy said of the situation, “It has become clear that there is no path to sustained profitability, nor will there be an acceptable return over time from our investments in Japan or Indonesia.”
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Porsche’s problems concerning the availability of the Macan started since the crossover was launched in 2014, but certain markets have had it much worse than others. Following a promise it made in early 2015, Porsche will increase its U.S. allocation for the Macan, and extra cars will begin to arrive in May.
"We do not want to continue to have a situation where we have a waiting list of five to six months," Porsche Cars North America CEO Detlev von Platen told Automotive News. "This is the reason we have decided to jump on the allocation for the United States and increase this for this year." Even though Porsche managed to sell 9,841 Macans in the U.S. since the model went on sale in May 2014, Van Platen has said that the demand is closer to 18,000 cars annually, the reason behind the long waiting lists.
This is not good news for everyone though, as the extra cars that will now go to the U.S. market will be shifted from others, albeit Porsche Cars NA did not disclose which markets will lose their allocations. The huge Macan demand has translated into Porsche reaching its goal of 50,000 cars sold annually in the U.S. four years earlier than it had originally prefigured. A number of North American dealerships have said that they can’t even keep one Macan as a demo car per dealer, since customers want them so badly.
Continue reading to learn more about the Porsche Macan.
Yet another old school body-on-frame SUV will be going under the executioner’s axe. According to our friends at Edmunds, Nissan will discontinue production of the Nissan Xterra after 2015, ending its 15-year production run.
Edmunds says the decision was made because of regulatory reasons. Continuing production after this year would have required expensive and significant alterations to both safety and emissions equipment, and because sales for the Xterra have been so slow in recent years – just 16,505 units in 2014 – the business case to keep it around could not be made. Fuel mileage is also pretty abhorrent by current standards: just 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway in two-wheel-drive specification and 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway with four-wheel-drive.
Based on Nissan’s F-Alpha truck and SUV platform, the Xterra is the most recent victim in the flight from truck-based, body-on-frame chassis to car-based crossovers and unibody chassis. Both the Ford Explorer and Nissan’s own Pathfinder adopted unibody chassis with their latest generations, while the Toyota FJ Cruiser was axed altogether.
The Xterra will be getting a few minor upgrades for its final year of production, including the addition of NissanConnect with Mobile Apps, a USB connection for iPods and a new SolarFlare Yellow exterior color.
Click ’Continue Reading’ to learn why Nissan decided to discontinue the Xterra.
The wheels of automotive manufacturing might are spinning faster at Ford’s Kansas City and Dearborn assembly plants. Ford has announced it will add 1,550 new manufacturing jobs in the coming weeks as initial sales of the all-new 2015 F-150 and other F-Series trucks post their biggest January numbers in 11 years.
Totaling 54,370 F-Series trucks sold in January, reports show 18 percent of that was the new F-150, or 9,787 units. That’s not bad considering “F-Series trucks” includes the Super Duty; the automaker is still selling the previous generation F-150; and the both factories are not at full production. In fact, the Kansas City plant is still in the midst of overhauling its assembly line for the new truck.
In order to meet demand, those 1,550 new jobs will be spread between Kansas City Assembly, Dearborn Stamping, Dearborn Diversified, and the Sterling Axle facilities. Once everything reaches full capacity, Ford will be able to produce more than 700,000 F-150s annually. That capacity is critical as Ford has a history of exceeding 900,000 units sold in a calendar year.
What’s more, Ford has announced some 300 to 500 manufacturing workers will receive a pay raise from the base $19.28 hourly rate to a $28.50 hourly rate. This comes as Ford reaches its maximum allotted number of entry-level workers specified in the 2011 UAW-Ford collective bargaining agreement.
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