Earlier this year, Ford and the United Auto Workers union ratified a new four-year contract that calls for investments of over $600 million in the Louisville Assembly Plant. Hiring has been ongoing, but demand for the new Escape will determine how fast the process goes.
Ford has already sold more than 200,000 Escapes this year, making it the number one selling SUV in America. Sport utility vehicles (SUV) have jumped in sales and have become the fastest growing segment in the auto industry, said Jason Sprawka, a marketing manager with Ford.
The Escape leads the pack.
This year Ford has sold over 200,000 Escapes. Those numbers may give Louisville reason to be optimistic since nearly 1,800 jobs depend on how the new model sells.
“We do a lot of data modeling and forecasting of the product and we know what our features, our strengths are in this product…and knowing what we’ve seen from other product introductions, we’re pretty confident,” he said.
Above all, car-buyers value the quality of a vehicle, said Sprawka.
“They value utility and fuel economy second and third and then after those key functional purchase reasons the design and the imagery and the looks of the vehicle is in the top five always,” he said.
SUVs now combine many aspects that attract buyers, like towing capabilities and storage space, but also offer better gas mileage, said Sprawka. The Escape will not be available as a hybrid this year. Instead its fuel economy is up five miles per gallon over last year’s model. The new Escape also offers hands-free technology and a redesigned exterior.
The Ford Escape will compete with Toyota’s RAV4 and Honda’s CR-V. Both are expected to undergo makeovers.