Ford To Hire 1,800 At Louisville Plant

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP) — Ford is the latest U.S. automaker to announce it is hiring again.

Ford said Thursday it will add 1,800 workers at a plant in Louisville to build the Escape, the second best-selling small SUV in the U.S. after the Honda CR-V. The automaker is investing $600 million in the plant, which will be shut for a year while new equipment is installed so that Ford can build the Escape on a more fuel efficient car platform.

The plant currently employs 1,100 people on one shift and has been building the Ford Explorer mid-size SUV since 1989. Production of the Explorer is being moved to a plant in Chicago.

Ford says the Louisville plant will be running on two shifts with 2,900 workers when it reopens in late 2011. The plant will be one of the most advanced in the company and will be able to switch quickly between products, Ford says.

Some of the 1,800 added workers will be new hires, but many will come from other Ford plants where they have been laid off.

General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group have also announced more hiring as automakers predict gradual improvement in U.S. car sales after the recession. Last week, GM and Chrysler said they plan to hire 1,000 engineers each to work on electric vehicles and other projects. Both have also hired more manufacturing workers in Midwest plants.