Ford Motor Co debuted new versions of two medium-duty commercial trucks on Tuesday at a trade show in Indianapolis, vehicles that - for the first time in years - will be built without the help of Navistar International Corp, Cummins Inc or Allison Transmission Holdings Inc.
The 2016 F-650 and F-750 trucks, which will go on sale in the spring of 2015, will be assembled at Ford's plant in Avon Lake, Ohio and feature chassis, engine and transmissions all built in-house.
For years, the two vehicles were built on chassis made in Escobedo, Mexico under a joint venture with Navistar, using diesel engines supplied by Cummins and transmissions supplied by Allison.
Ford executives say bringing the components back in-house will reduce costs and simplify service issues when they arise.
The production shift to the United States is welcome news for most of the 1,600 UAW-represented production workers employed at the Ohio plant.
They faced the specter of mass layoffs as Ford largely phased out the E-Series "Econoline" van currently made in their plant in favor of the new Transit line of vans, which will be built in Kansas City. By moving medium-duty truck production back to the United States, only a few hundred union members will lose their jobs.
F-650 and F-750 buyers will have two engine choices with the new trucks, according to Ford: a new 6.7-liter V8 diesel, built at the company's plant in Chihuahua, Mexico, or a V-10 gasoline engine built at its plant in Windsor, Ontario, which can be factory-modified to run on compressed natural gas or liquid propane gas.
Ford will no longer offer customers the option of having a 6.7-liter turbo diesel built by Cummins installed in the vehicles. That powerplant provided the muscle for all the diesel versions of the trucks in recent years but is being discontinued as Ford brings the truck's key content in-house.
Both vehicles have also undergone major redesigns that have put key components under the cab instead of behind the cab or on the frame, a change Ford says will make it much easier for buyers to customize their trucks.
That's important because the F-650 and F-750 are typically sold as cab-and-chassis-only skeletons and customized by purchasers to serve as everything from dump trucks to ambulances, furniture and beverage delivery vehicles to electric-utility and oil-field service trucks.
Ford said it will announce pricing later this year. The current models currently retail for between $55,595 for a gas engine-powered F-650 to $70,075 for a F-750 with a Cummins 6.7-liter diesel.
(Reporting by James B. Kelleher in Detroit; Editing by Nick Zieminski)