DETROIT: Ford Motor Co said it will boost US production of its largest sport utility vehicles in a move to grab profits in a market where consumers favor larger, more comfortable vehicles.
Ford's Kentucky Truck plant in Louisville will increase the production rate for Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles by 20 percent in July - the second 20 percent increase in a year for both models, executives said during a media briefing on Monday, report agencies.The move highlights Detroit automakers' aggressive efforts to capitalize on popular, profitable large vehicles in America's heartland, even as policymakers in California, China and Europe push for smaller, electric vehicles to reduce carbon dioxide emissions linked to climate change.
The Trump administration, however, has proposed freezing U.S. fuel efficiency standards - a decision that would make it easier for automakers to sell large SUVs and pickup trucks.
With gasoline relatively cheap, U.S. consumers are paying premium prices for large SUVs that seat eight people and can tow a four-ton trailer.
The average transaction price of a new Ford Expedition is US$62,700, Ford U.S. marketing director Matt VanDyke said, up US$11,700 from the previous year. Ford does not disclose profits by model line. Average prices for the luxury Navigator rose to US$81,000 in February from US$78,000 a year earlier, according to Lincoln data.
In January, Ford said transaction prices across its U.S. model lines averaged US$38,400, above the US$34,000 industry average.
General Motors Co , which dominates the North American large SUV segment, will launch a new generation of its large SUV Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, and GMC Yukon, models later this year. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV last month said it will re-enter the large SUV segment with new models due out in late 2020.