Ford, swimming in trucks, idles truck plant

Sagging demand for large sport utility vehicles has forced Ford Motor Co. to close a Michigan factory for nine weeks starting next Monday. The Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne makes the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition. It will be idled until Aug. 25, Ford spokeswoman Angie Kozleski said Monday.

Expedition sales are down 31 percent for the first five months of the year, and Navigator sales are off 22 percent, according to Autodata Corp. Ford had a 124-day supply of Navigators and a 100-day inventory of Expeditions, according to Ward's AutoInfoBank.

Ford had previously announced that it would close the Michigan Truck Plant for five weeks during the summer, including the company's normal two-week summer shutdown in July.

"We are going to do what we need to do to make sure our capacity is in line with demand," Kozleski said.

The factory employs about 1,400 hourly workers. They will be laid off, but get roughly 95 percent of their pay under their contract with the United Auto Workers.

Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally said last month that the U.S. market had rapidly shifted from trucks to cars because of $4-per-gallon gasoline, and that Ford views the shift as permanent. The company plans to increase car production and decrease truck production, with specifics coming in July, he said.

Kozleski said the Michigan Truck Plant shutdown is not part of the July announcement.

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