DEARBORN (WWJ) – It looks like auto plants will be humming through the summer of 2012, as the major automakers work to build more products to meet increased demand.

Ford says it’s going to cut its normal two week summer shutdown in half at thirteen of its factories, including six assembly plants.

“We are working most of our North America plants at maximum capacity and we are adding production shifts in three of our assembly plants this month alone,” said Jim Tetreault, vice president of North America Manufacturing. “Requiring more capacity from our plants is a good problem to have and having the flexibility to add a week of production in our plants goes a long way toward solving it.”

Ford is working to increase its production by 400 thousand units this year. Cutting out the downtime will allow them to add about 40 thousand vehicles to the mix.

Ford says assembly plants taking just one week of summer shutdown in 2012 include Chicago Assembly, Dearborn Truck, Kentucky Truck, Louisville Assembly, Michigan Assembly and Kansas City Assembly.

Other plants taking just one week of shutdown include Dearborn Engine, Chicago Stamping, Cleveland Engine No. 1, Lima Engine, Essex Engine, Sterling and Rawsonville.

“This is the first time we’ve had a list this long of plants that are taking one week instead of two,” says Ford spokeswoman Marcy Evans. “Last week we had a couple of plants that took one week. But, this year the list is much longer.”

Chrysler recently announced that it was eliminating or reducing shutdown time at several of its plants. GM has yet to make a system wide announcement, but has said it may reduce some downtime at its Detroit Hamtramk plant, that builds the Chevy Volt.

The auto companies new contracts with the UAW allow them more production flexibility.

Most major analysts and carmakers have recently upgraded their sales projections, following stronger than expected sales in the first four quarters of the year. Ford’s forecast is for the industry to sell 14-14.5 million vehicles this year.

Evans says they will closely monitor sales results as the year goes on.

“This is all part of Ford’s plan to more directly match capacity to customer demand.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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