June 25, 2016

Mostly sunny

F-750 to be built in Northeast Ohio

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

The big reveal was 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 United Auto Workers.

As part of the deal, Ford will shift production of the 2016 Ford F-650 and F-750 trucks from Mexico to the Ohio Assembly Plant.

Ford officials said $168 million will be invested into retooling the plant for production, which will begin early next year, with trucks on sale in spring 2015.

The F-650 and F-750 trucks will be 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 in the field, 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 V10 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 initially were shown at an auto show in Indianapolis with favorable results, Hinrichs said.

In addition to the F-650 and F-750, the Ohio Assembly 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 together well as a team will determine future production coming to the plant.

In January, Ford announced plans to layoff more than 900 workers at the Ohio Assembly Plant, but a plan with the UAW saved 1,408 of the 1,605 employees at the plant. Under the agreement, the Ohio Assembly Plant will provide rotating shift opportunities for 1,000 production employees 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 under way, and those studies are “going well.”

UAW Regional 2B Director Ken Lortz, who visited the Ohio Assembly 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 OHAP,” he said.

Contact reporter Chelsea Miller at (440) 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com .