Why turn away customers willing to fork over lots of money?
Last week we learned Lincoln could not build its all-new Navigator SUV fast enough to satisfy demand. It's not a bad problem for Lincoln to have. However, when there are customers lining up at dealerships willing to fork over at least $73,000, a production increase is very necessary. And that's exactly what's happening. Ford has just announced it is increasing production of both the Expedition and its more luxurious twin, the Navigator, in order to meet growing customer demand.
Ford says it's using "advanced manufacturing technologies and an upskilled workforce to increase line speed at its Kentucky Truck Plant" where both full-size SUVs are built. All told, this will boost production targets approximately 25 percent since the pair hit went on sale last fall. "The response from customers regarding our new full-size SUVs has been exceptional," said Joe Hinrichs, president, Global Operations. "Using a combination of Ford's advanced manufacturing and American hard work and ingenuity, we'll deliver more high-quality Lincoln Navigators and Ford Expeditions to customers than originally planned."
Ford has just injected another $25 million into its Kentucky facility, bringing a total investment of $925 million. The latest investment adds 400 new robots, a new 3D printer enabling workers to make parts and tools at greater speed with less cost, and improved data analytics to keep the assembly line moving with absolute efficiency. According to Ford, customers have been trading in Land Rover and Mercedes vehicles for the new Navigator. Approximately 85 percent of those buyers are opting for the fully-loaded Black Label and Reserve Models, which jacks up the price tag to anywhere between $93,000 and $100,000. Heck, a fully-loaded Expedition costs nearly $80k.
In fact, Navigator sales were up triple digits in every region of the US last month. It sounds like Ford clearly got the message from both customers and dealerships alike. Hopefully the popularity of both vehicles continues, and we think it will based on the fact luxury and mainstream SUV sales for nearly all automakers doing business in the US are up. Cheap gas prices certainly contribute to this trend, but America has long been an SUV loving country.