LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it plans to invest $80 million in its Kentucky truck plant to churn out more F-Series Super Duty trucks. The ramped up production will add 350 jobs, the automaker said.
The investment will boost production capacity by 15 percent, or about 55,000 units, as the company retools and upgrades the plant, Ford said. Improvements are planned in the body and paint shops, it said.
Ford said the investment is needed to keep up with strong demand for the popular truck line.
"Customer demand for F-Series Super Duty trucks is growing substantially," said Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas.
The truck plant, which opened in 1969, employs nearly 4,000 people. The plant produces F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 Super Duty pickups, as well as the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.
With the increased production in 2014, the plant will build the 5 millionth Ford F-Series Super Duty truck, the company said. The truck was introduced in 1999.
The Ford F-Series topped 750,000 in sales last year, with an uptick in December when more than 70,000 trucks were sold after eight straight months of sales above 60,000 vehicles, the company said.
United Auto Workers vice president Jimmy Settles said the investment was a tribute to plant workers.
"We know the impact these jobs will have on the local community," he said. "It's especially rewarding to know these jobs come as a result of customer demand."
The truck plant investment is Ford's latest expansion of its operations in Kentucky, where the automaker first started making vehicles in 1913 with 11 employees.
Across town, Ford invested $600 million in recent years to revamp its Louisville Assembly Plant, now the home of the Escape. The plant overhaul included new body, paint and trim assembly lines.