Ford Motor Co. is cancelling plans to build the next-generation Edge, a move that bodes ill for the automaker’s Oakville, Ont., plant, a key source for Ford and Lincoln crossover output, according to AutoForecast Solutions, a U.S.-based global forecasting and consulting firm.
“Unless Ford decides on a different program to replace the Edge, there’s no future for Oakville,” which employs 4,200 hourly workers, said Sam Fiorani, vice-president of global forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions.
Ford Motor Co. declined to comment.
Last year, Ford ended production of the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT at the Oakville plant, and, according to Fiorani, the automaker plans to shift output of the Lincoln Nautilus to China in 2023.
As Ford’s final Canadian-built vehicle, the Edge’s cancellation puts the Oakville plant at risk of closing, Fiorani said. Ford’s Unifor labour contract covering the Oakville plant, as well as its two engine plants in Windsor, Ont., expires in September.
After negotiating the closure of a Romeo, Mich., engine plant, two Canadian engine plants were to be the only sources of the automaker's 5-litre and PV-8 family of V-8 engines, Fiorani said in a video report Sunday.
Unifor President Jerry Dias said Ford has not communicated any such plans to the union. He said he would be in contact with Ford to learn more about what their product plans are for the Oakville plant.
"It will certainly complicate our negotiations. Before I jump to any judgment, I want to know what their plans are and if what [AutoForecast Solutions] says is true," Dias said. "Better to know now than to make the announcement after we're done."
“Edge and the five-passenger midsize SUV segment remain a critical part of Ford’s winning portfolio. We have no plans to exit the segment, particularly as Edge sales were up three per cent to nearly 140,000 Edges in the U.S. last year,” Ford Motor Co. spokesman Said Deep said in a statement. “Since its launch in 2006, we have sold more than 1.6 million Edges in America. Customers are loving the all-new Edge ST, with retail sales up 41 per cent in 2019. We also are building on that success with launch of the Edge ST-Line, which is now available for order, plus upgraded features for the 2021 Edge.”
Automotive News in Detroit reported a year ago that the automakers plans to build two midsize battery-electric crossovers for the Ford and Lincoln brands at a plant near Detroit for the 2023 model year. The vehicles are said to be similar in size to the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus but will be built on the company's battery-electric vehicle platform, sources told the publication.
A spokesperson for Vic Fedeli, the Ontario minister of economic development, job creation and trade, said the provincial government would "remain in close contact with Ford and the other auto assemblers to remind them that we continue to work hard to ensure that Ontario will remain a great place to build vehicles for decades to come."