By Deepa Seetharaman
WAYNE, Michigan Oct 7 Ford Motor Co
mapped out a plan to build one-third more vehicles globally by
adding more plants in emerging markets, overhauling its
production methods and running most of its factories around the
clock by 2017, executives said on Monday.
The No. 2 U.S. automaker aims to build around 8 million
vehicles worldwide by the middle of the decade, up from about 6
million cars and trucks this year.
These efforts build on Chief Executive Alan Mulally's "One
Ford" system to cut costs and boost output by adopting a unified
manufacturing strategy. This strategy is the cornerstone of
Mulally's restructuring of Ford over the last seven years.
"As we've restructured and kept with our core principle of
keeping capacity sized with demand, we're now able to fully
utilize capacity around the world and get our absolute maximum
from them," John Fleming, Ford's head of global manufacturing,
told reporters at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant.
By 2017, when Ford will have around 80 factories, Ford plans
to build nearly all its cars and trucks off nine platforms, down
from 15 currently. By that year, Ford factories will be able to
build an average of 4 different models or derivatives, up from
an average of just over 3 currently.
Ninety percent of Ford's global plants will run three shifts
by 2017, which would boost production by 30 percent. Currently
about 65 percent of Ford factories run three shifts.
Ford is also building 14 new factories as part of a global
expansion that began in 2011 in countries like China and India.
The automaker is betting these moves will allow it To
respond more quickly to changing consumer tastes. By 2017, Ford
will launch 114 new or modified vehicles worldwide.
Ford aims to further improve its manufacturing flexibility
and speed by adopting such advanced techniques as 3D printing of
prototype parts. The technology, dubbed F3T or Ford Freeform
Fabrication Technology, allows prototype stamping molds to be
made within three business days, compared to up to 6 months.
Paul Mascarenas, Ford's chief technical officer, would not
specify the cost savings of this technology but said they were
"very significant." He added that Ford could license its F3T
technology "if appropriate."
Ford executives spoke at a ceremony marking the centennial
of Henry Ford's moving assembly line.
Monday's event comes as Mulally weighs other high-profile
roles to follow up his successful tenure at Ford, people
familiar with the matter have said. He has been mentioned as a
candidate for Microsoft Corp's top job, although Ford
has repeatedly said he plans to stay CEO through 2014.