A report from The Detroit News indicates that the Ford Motor Company is rearranging its assembly lines before an important product blitz in the 2015-2016 model years. Indeed, the Flat Rock, MI production site, which currently makes the Mustang, is being retooled to accommodate production of the 2014 Fusion and eventually that of the 2016 Lincoln MKS.
That move is interesting on many levels.
First, it is to be seen in the context of the initial quality problems Lincoln encountered with the MKZ, which is still produced alongside the Fusion in the Hermosillo plant in Mexico. Indeed, since the problem first came up, Lincoln has had to establish an additional quality control at, you guessed it, Flat Rock where models shipped from Mexico are reviewed before delivery to the dealerships. One can be surprised that it is the Fusion that gets promoted to Flat Rock production, although sustained demand for the car does require additional shifts.
It is also different from General Motor’s policy of grouping its Cadillac assembly lines at the Lansing Grand River site for improved quality controls and special training of its workforce.
Then, the Detroit News story suggests that the next-generation Lincoln MKS will also join the Fusion at Flat Rock alongside the Mustang, which could according to the report be interpreted as a change of platform for the MKS. The car, which now shares its full-size underpinnings with the Ford Taurus, could then be switched to either an extended Fusion platform or the Mustang plaform. Quite a difference there!
There has been lots of rumors about the next generation Taurus and Lincoln, especially since the demise of the RWD Australian Ford Falcon. Some hint at a downsizing of the Taurus to a longer Fusion platform, others to the development of a new, Mustang-based global RWD platform that could be shared by Australian Fords and American Lincolns, others see several platforms coexisting at Flat Rock.
For what it’s worth, Autoevolution reports that the Lincoln MKS will be based on a brand new, potentially RWD platform shared with the Taurus and to a certain extent the Mustang.
Photo credit: Lincoln Motor Company
- http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130529/AUTO0102/305290009/1148/auto01/Flat-Rock-plant-produce-Ford-Fusion-summer (sub. req.)