Earlier this month, the new Ford Expedition beat out four other three-row, full-size SUVs to take first place in Motor Trend‘s Beasts of Burden comparison. And the new Lincoln Navigator? Let’s just say the Cadillac Escalade better watch its back. As impressive as both these SUVs are, it should be no surprise that demand has been high. Apparently, though, demand has been so high, Ford had to speed up production just to keep up.
Granted, we already knew the Navigator is flying off dealer lots. But today, Ford announced that it’s increased production targets by 25 percent to keep up with demand. It’s also spent an additional $25 million upgrading its Kentucky Truck Plant to speed up the production line. Ford also added overtime and voluntary weekend shifts in an attempt to keep up with demand.
“The response from customers regarding our new full-size SUVs has been exceptional,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s head of global operations. “Using a combination of Ford’s advanced manufacturing and American hard work and ingenuity, we’ll deliver more high-quality Lincoln Navigators and Ford Expeditions to customers than originally planned.”
The coolest change Ford made to the assembly line, though, is the new commercial 3D printer it added. By Ford’s own estimate, it can take two to four months to make a new prototype part using traditional manufacturing methods. Tooling costs aren’t cheap, either, often exceeding $250,000. Using 3D printing, new parts can be made in as little as a few hours and rarely cost more than a few thousand dollars.
For a little more context, last month, Expedition sales were up 57 percent, and Navigator sales were up 97.5 percent. Both SUVs only spent an average of seven days on dealer lots, while the Expedition’s average transaction price is up $7,800, transaction prices for the Navigator have jumped about $21,000.
So even though sales of full-size SUVs are relatively modest overall, it’s probably safe to say that Ford has two hits on its hands with the new Expedition and Navigator.