FORD to cut production at Michigan SUV Plant

. . . Move to better align firm with declining demand for gas-guzzling vehicles

DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. will cut production at a sport utility vehicle plant in Michigan to better align itself with declining demand for the gas-guzzling machines, the automaker said.

A spokeswoman said Ford would reduce production at the Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne to one shift from two.

“With the shift in the market, we’re matching our full-size SUV capacity with demand as part of our turnaround plan in North America,” Ann Marie Gattari said.

The second-largest U.S. automaker, which posted a third-quarter loss of $5.8 billion, plans to close 16 plants and slash nearly 45,000 jobs. It is offering buyouts to about 75,000 union workers as part of its restructuring.

Ford in October said it would cut North American production by as much as 12 percent in the first six months of 2007.

The production cut at the Wayne plant, which makes the Ford Expedition and Lincoln navigator SUVs, is in addition to the previously announced cuts.

“We see the overall volumes in the segment declining,” Gattari said. “And we will be able to meet the demand with one shift.”

Expedition sales have fallen nearly 30 percent this year, while Navigator sales have slipped almost 15 percent.

The plant is Ford’s largest in Michigan, with about 2,800 workers. The automaker said it was too early to tell how many jobs would be lost as a result of the cut.