FIRST 2004 FORD F-150 ROLLS OFF ASSEMBLY LINE INTO HISTORY
Ford Motor Company’s F-Series trucks, led by the Ford F-150, reached another leadership milestone today. The first 2004 F-150, a sporty red SuperCab Lariat, rolled off the Norfolk Assembly Plant line, using an all-new flexible manufacturing system.
To enhance today’s milestone, the company equipped the first truck with Ford's 100-millionth V-8 engine – the new 5.4-liter 3-valve Triton™ V-8, which was produced April 29 at Ford’s Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ont.
The debut of the 2004 F-150 comes only six days before the company that Henry Ford founded a century ago officially observes its Centennial celebration.
"In the last 50 years, nothing has been more central to our success, or more important to us, than the F-Series," said Bill Ford, Chairman and CEO. "The power, styling and interiors of this fantastic all-new 2004 Ford F-150 are built to delight our customers and help maintain its place as America’s favorite truck."
F-Series has been the nation’s best-selling truck for 26 consecutive years and the best-selling vehicle for 21 years in a row.
During the celebration 2,500 employees and guests applauded as Bill Ford drove the first new Ford F-150 off the line and into an arena with Gerald Bantom, United Auto Worker vice president and director of the UAW National Ford Department.
"The work force at Norfolk Assembly has tremendous skill and experience, with a long tradition of producing some of the highest quality vehicles in the plant’s 78-year history," Bantom said.
Virginia Gov. Mark Warner presented the company with a proclamation in observance of Ford’s Centennial on June 16. "The people of Virginia and Ford Motor Company have enjoyed a successful partnership for 78 of Ford’s 100 years," Warner said. "I believe our business partnership should serve as an example for the kind of reinvestment in people and facilities that can stimulate regional economies and the corporate bottom line."
Flexible Manufacturing Start-Up
With the launch of the new 2004 Ford F-150 at Norfolk Assembly, Ford also introduced its new flexible production technology. "Just as the F-Series has defined the truck market for more than 26 years, our all-new flexible manufacturing system introduces a new era of flexible manufacturing at Ford," said Roman Krygier, group vice president, Global Manufacturing and Quality.
Norfolk is the first of several Ford plants to install a next-generation flexible system, allowing it to build up to eight different models off two platforms. "Norfolk Assembly now has the ability to change the mix, volume and options of products in response to consumer demand and market segmentation – all with minimal investment and changeover loss," said Krygier.
Over the next decade, Ford expects to save up to $2 billion because its flexible system will cost 10 percent to 15 percent less than traditional systems, with an added 50 percent savings in changeover costs.
Ford’s flexible body shops employ an industry-first system of 16 standardized cells, or modules, all built from about 300 components. Only product-specific tooling needs to be changed, or computers and robots reprogrammed, to launch new products.
By mid-decade in North America, about half of Ford’s body shops, trim and final assembly operations will be flexible. That number rises to 75 percent by the end of the decade.
Ford’s Kansas City (Mo.) Assembly Plant will begin building the new 2004 Ford F-150 later this summer, and the new Dearborn (Mich.) Truck Plant will begin building the F-Series truck in 2004. Both will be among the first plants to install a flexible production system.
Other plants to install the flexible system include the Chicago Assembly Plant, which will build the all-new 2005 Ford Freestyle, Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego, and AutoAlliance International in Flat Rock, Mich., which will build the new 2005 Mustang beginning next year.
Ford’s new system standardizes the assembly process, which improves productivity through reduced changeover downtime. Standardization helps improve quality through increased repeatability. Plus, easier access results in improved safety and ergonomics for operators and maintenance crews.
The new body shop will be able to handle two distinct platforms while producing four different derivatives off each platform. The lines can be configured to accommodate front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive, unitized-body and body-on-frame vehicles.
The same type of standardization found in the new body shops is being employed in final assembly. Final assembly operations have a standard sequence, with standardized workstations that can be changed or modified quickly and easily to accommodate new vehicle options or features.
The Norfolk Assembly Plant, which began operations in 1925 with production of the Model T, currently has 2,320 employees. Since 1974, the plant has been home to the F-Series truck. Norfolk Assembly builds the F-150 Regular Cab and SuperCab models in five versions: XL, STX, XLT, FX4 and Lariat.
100 Millionth V-8 Engine
To showcase Ford’s engine heritage, the first 2004 F-150 was equipped with the company’s 100-millionth V-8 engine, a powerful new 5.4 liter, 3-valve Triton™ V-8. The engine is the newest member of Ford’s modular engine family. It is the first modular V-8 Ford engine to use variable-cam timing to optimize intake and exhaust valve operation across the rev range, generating both lower-speed torque and high-speed horsepower while minimizing emissions. Ford uses a new flexible manufacturing process to produce the new V-8, which is being rolled out globally at all the company’s powertrain plants.
2004 Ford F-150
Tough, capable and powerful, the F-Series has been the best-selling full-size pickup for 26 years and the nation’s favorite vehicle for 21 years running.
When the new 2004 F-150 hits showrooms this fall, customers will discover a broad range of overarching product enhancements. The truck’s strong backbone – the industry’s stiffest fully boxed frame – gives it great handling precision. Its wider track provides great stability, and the all-new coil-over-shock front suspension system provides a greater sense of control. Other enhancements include:
Stronger stance and style – The new F-150 features an all-new design, with a bold exterior shape that exemplifies Ford truck toughness and capability. The interiors boldly take the full-size pickup into a new dimension of comfort and refinement.
Power – Ford’s new 5.4-liter, 3-valve Triton™ V-8 engine produces 300 peak horsepower – a 15 percent improvement over the previous award-winning 5.4-liter engine, and 365 foot-pounds of torque for improved low-speed and peak pulling power. Mated with the new 4R75E transmission for smoother shifts and improved fuel efficiency, the new engine also contributes to a quieter cab environment for F-150 customers.
Even tougher – The fully boxed frame is approximately nine times stiffer torsionally than its tough predecessor, providing the foundation for enhancements in durability, safety, driving dynamics and refined, quiet ride.
Superior driving experience – Tremendous attention to detail has been applied to the chassis of the F-150 to deliver a confident, capable driving experience. F-150’s newly designed rear suspension, featuring outboard shock, is among the details that contribute to more confident and precise handling, both in everyday driving and while towing a trailer.
Increased interior spaciousness – Regular Cab and SuperCab models have a passenger compartment that is six inches longer, providing more space inside for occupants and their gear. For SuperCab models, that extra length means increased rear-seat comfort for three adults. In the Regular Cab, it means 13 inches of secure storage space behind the seat.
Greater access – Reflecting consumer demand for ease of access for both people and cargo, Regular Cab models feature new, class-exclusive access doors that open up new stowage possibilities and accessibility behind the seat.
More cargo capacity – The new F-150’s cargo box is 2 inches deeper, providing greater cargo volume. Plus, a new class-exclusive Tailgate Assist feature, which is standard across the lineup, helps owners of all statures open and close the gate.
Enhanced safety – Inherent strength and toughness, plus the F-150 Personal Safety System’s™ new occupant-sensing technology for the front outboard passenger, makes the all-new F-150 a strong choice for safety. It has been engineered to exceed the rigorous new federal government safety standard, FMVSS 208, which governs air-bag and offset crash performance.
Ford Motor Company, headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, is the world’s second-largest automaker, with approximately 335,000 employees in 200 markets on six continents. Its automotive brands include Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo. Its automotive-related services include Ford Credit, Quality Care and Hertz. Ford Motor Company will officially observe its 100th anniversary on June 16, 2003.