So much for exporting. Although Ford once thought about building its European Kuga crossover here in the United States and sending them abroad, fluctuating exchange rates have nipped that idea in the bud.
Late last year, a series of reports suggested Ford was considering shifting some — if not all — of its Kuga production from Saarlouis, Germany, to the former Explorer assembly plant in Louisville, Kentucky. Initial plans reportedly called for the plant to build some 80,000 units to be exported to European markets. At the time, a strong Euro currency made the idea logical, and Ford even used the idea as a bargaining chip when seeking additional concessions from the United Auto Workers.
What killed the idea? Certainly, the UAW’s veto of the deal didn’t help, but a weakened Euro may be largely to thank. Although Ford was once paying German autoworkers nearly $10 more an hour compared to American laborers, the disparity has virtually disappeared, making the cost of a global production move prohibitively expensive.
Here’s where things get a bit tricky. No, the Kuga won’t be built in Louisville for export, but a Kuga-ish vehicle will be built in Louisville for North America. Ford maintains it’s still on track to launch a new Louisville-built vehicle based upon its global C-car platform. Although the automaker has yet to reveal which product that will be (the Grand C-Max is one possibility), Bloomberg suggests it could be the next-generation Escape, which will share the C-platform with (and possibly be quite similar to) the next iteration of the Kuga.