Ford-UAW Contract Hints at Revived Ranger, Bronco for the U.S.

Contract reveals many other production shifts.

Ford and United Auto Workers (UAW) leaders have reached a tentative labor contract, which sees wage increases for workers and production of many models moving outside the U.S. Voting for the deal by the automaker’s 53,000 hourly workers begins this week. Additionally, the agreement fuels rumors that the global Ford Ranger and a resurrected Bronco SUV will be sold in the U.S.

The contract only goes so far as to say that a “new product” will be added to the Michigan Assembly plant’s production line after the Focus and C-Max are relocated in 2018, and that a second new model will be added in 2020. Unnamed sources have told Automotive News that the Wayne plant will build a Ranger pickup and Bronco SUV. We had heard previously that the global Ford Ranger would be built at the Michigan Assembly plant in 2018, and the timeline in the contract matches up with that report. A concept for a next-gen Bronco was shown all the way back in 2004, but never really amounted to anything. If a Bronco is to be built alongside the Ranger at the Wayne plant, we can speculate that the two vehicles will share a platform and perhaps other components.

The contract also laid out many other changes to Ford’s production plans. Although Ford agreed to invest $9 billion to upgrade or revamp or keep open its U.S.-based plants over the next four years, production of most cars could leave the U.S. by the end of their current generations. The investment will create or retain 8,500 jobs as well as bring production of unnamed vehicles to assembly plants in Chicago; Wayne, Mich.; and Avon Lake, Ohio.

According to a summary of the deal, U.S. production of the C-Max, Focus, Fusion, and Taurus would end with the current generations. Focus and C-Max production will likely move to Mexico where the automaker also builds some Fusion models. Automotive News reports production of the Taurus could move to China, which is getting a next-gen model based on the Fusion’s platform. The automaker may discontinue the full-size sedan in the U.S. after its current production cycle. The upcoming Lincoln Continental will join the Ford Mustang at the company’s Flat Rock, Mich., plant next year.

Production of the Lincoln MKC crossover will cease at the Louisville assembly plant in order to build more Ford Escape models. There are no details on which plant will build the MKC.

One interesting tidbit from the UAW contract agreement says the 6.2-liter V-8 built at the Romeo Engine plant will gain a “new displacement to support Super Duty.” Additionally, the Livonia, Sharonville, and Van Dyke transmission plants will all begin building new transmissions on their production lines.

With the contract, the automaker agreed to remove a $12,000 cap on profit sharing if the automaker posts more than a $12 billion annual profit in North America. Ford’s current North American record was $8.8 billion in 2013. So far, the automaker has earned $6.6 billion in the first three quarters of 2015 or about $6,600 in profit sharing.

Ford’s agreement with the UAW is similar to GM’s contract with the union. Ford workers would get a ratification bonus of $8,500 to GM worker’s $8,000 bonus.


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