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Old 12-08-2006, 03:29   #1 (permalink)
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US:Ford begins shipping Edge

Ford begins shipping Edge

Automaker smooths out production line quality issues, sends new crossover to dealerships.

Tom Krisher / Associated Press

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. has ironed out all the production problems with its new Edge crossover vehicle and began shipping them Thursday from its Oakville, Ontario, manufacturing complex, a company official said.

Joseph R. Hinrichs, vice president of North American manufacturing, said Ford now is happy with the assembly line performance at the plant, which also produces the Edge's Lincoln counterpart, the MKX.

"We're very comfortable with the level of production capability that we have now," he said.

The Edge and MKX are important vehicles to the struggling automaker's turnaround plan, with the company hoping to capture people seeking a more fuel-efficient alternative to truck-based sport utility vehicles.

Ford lost $7 billion during the first nine months of the year and has said it won't return to profitability until 2009.

About 38,000 production workers have signed up for buyouts and early retirement packages, and Ford plans to shutter 16 plants to reduce manufacturing capacity to match lower demand for its products.

The company initially said it would deliver the car-based crossover vehicles to dealerships in November, but delayed shipments in mid-November.

Hinrichs said that early vehicles coming off the line met all of Ford's quality standards, but the company wanted to ensure all of its manufacturing processes were working correctly before delivering the vehicles.

Ford has checkpoints to watch hundreds of assembly line work stations and wanted to make sure quality was consistent with all the stations before rolling out the vehicle, he said. There also were problems with parts shortages from suppliers, Hinrichs said, but those, too, have been worked out.

"We wanted to make sure we saw the kind of stability we'd like to see out of our production process and out of the supply base," he said.

Catherine Madden, an auto industry analyst at the consulting company Global Insight Inc., said a delay of a few weeks won't hurt Ford nearly as much as releasing vehicles before a plant is ready.

Because of its struggles, Ford has to closely guard its reputation and make sure it produces quality vehicles, she said.

"It's a very minor blip in the whole scheme of things to make sure the whole product isn't marred in any way with the perception that it may not be up to snuff," she said.
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My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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