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Pump Crunch Puts Dent in Ford's New Excursion SUV

Aired June 20, 2000 - 2:09 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The crunch at the pump is putting a dent in Ford Motor Company's production plans for the Excursion, that gigantic SUV that rolled off assembly lines amid great fanfare.

For that story, here's Mark Glover (ph) of our affiliate WDRB in Louisville.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MARK GLOVER, WDRB REPORTER (voice-over): Ford pinned its hopes on entering the seven-passenger SUV market on the massive Excursion, built at KTP. But its first year has been marked by soaring gas prices, leaving some potential buyers with a serious case of sticker shock.

STEVE CANNON, BILL COLLINS FORD: What happens a lot today is that the consumer comes in and really literally tries to force themselves up to a level of a vehicle. That consumer is conscious of changes in the market, which as such might happen with fuel.

GLOVER: KTP officials say rising gas prices and lagging sales are prompting an even larger production cut of the Excursion than first announced, some 20,000 fewer vehicles.

FRANK FOLEY, MANAGER, FORD KTP: It is true that the Excursion volume will be reduced approximately 30 percent. But as the Excursion volume is being reduced, we plan on bringing up the Super Duty value.

GLOVER: Officials say that shift means no layoffs for any of the 6,500 KTP employees, at least not for now. Future customer demand will ultimately dictate that. The shift is prompting Ford to work with the union to develop more production flexibility at the plant.

FOLEY: We're going to have to make some changes in our facility by being a little bit more flexible, if you will, in our work and also in our tooling.

DICKY SUTTON, UAW LOCAL 862: We've got some issues on how they're going to do that. And we haven't got those that resolved yet.

GLOVER (on camera): What are they? What are the...

SUTTON: Well, that I can't comment on, but once we come to get the issues resolved, I'll notify my membership, then I'll let you all know.

GLOVER (voice-over): The increased production of Super Duty trucks is good news to Ford dealers, whose customers sometimes have to wait up to 18 weeks to get into their new vehicle.

CANNON: The nice thing being -- had being Ford Motor Company is that even though the sales of the Excursion aren't maybe quite as many as they thought -- even though they are good -- then they still have a huge demand at that plant for another product.

GLOVER: Union officials say they hope their good relationship with Ford will make the transition a smooth ride.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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