• Oct 23, 2009

2009 Ford Kuga (Euro Spec) - Click above for high-res image gallery

The Ford Kuga is currently made in Europe and isn't available for sale here in the States, but if a report from Bloomberg is to be believed, the next Kuga could be produced in Louisville, Kentucky for sale both here and abroad. Bloomberg's sources claim that Ford plans to build as many as 80,000 Kuga crossovers here for export overseas by October 2011, which would undoubtedly make members of the United Auto Workers union very happy.

Ford is currently awaiting the ratification of a new labor deal that would put labor costs of the Dearborn, MI-based automaker on a nearly equal footing with General Motors and Chrysler. A major tenet of the negotiations is the guarantee of new product to build in U.S. assembly plants, effectively giving 41,000 blue collar Ford employees some much needed job security. A summary of the tentative agreement between the UAW and Ford reportedly states that the Louisville facility will receive a new product with "considerable export volume," so it's not a far leap to surmise that the Kuga will become Kentucky born and bred.

At this point, Ford has only announced that the Louisville plant will receive a more fuel efficient product based on Ford's global C platform. The Kuga certainly fits that bill, and building the small crossover in the good ol' US of A makes financial sense right now since the dollar is worth less than the euro or British pound, and labor costs in the U.S. could be $10 per hour cheaper than they are in Germany, for instance.



[Source: Bloomberg]


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  • 51 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Finally Ford makes a good decision.

      Let's just hope they don't screw up when they bring it here.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hope this time Ford will offer an electric panoramic sunroof instead of this stupid glass roof.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Will this be the new Escape or is it smaller? The Escape cannot go bigger or it will overlap the Edge.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Bigger? I don't care, this looks a hell of a lot better than the escape or the edge. ... and drives better if euro reviews are to be believed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It is about the size of the Escape. It will likely be a successor. I think if they restricted to a Mercury, that wouldn't be a bad idea. Have a sturdier looking version as the Escape and a sleeker model as a Mercury.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I believe it's roughly the same outer dimensions. The Escape, while based on the old Mondeo platform, is still a fairly small vehicle. Especially inside. I'd imagine the interior packaging on the Kuga is better. I could see the next gen Kuga replacing the Escape, even though in Europe they were/are sold alongside each other (Maverick).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now this would make a very nice replacement for the very boring Escape and it could snag some Edge buyers as well and put that poor thing out of its misery... but my confidence in Ford US doing the smart thing is next to nil. If it makes it to the showroom, I expect everything that makes it cool and funky and worthwhile will be homoganized into something we care nothing about. We'll probably have to wait for the BMW X1 to get what we want.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Make it the new Mercury Mariner.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Kuga and Escape will be (mostly) one vehicle by the time this happens. I don't know if the Escape (it will keep that name here) will look like a Kuga or retain a more traditional SUV-like styling. Personally, I think the Escape has a lot of brand equity so Ford should try to keep the character of the new model as close to the character of the current model as much as possible. Perhaps the Mercury version will look like the European Kuga.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hopefully one day we will see some plan for that brand, so far it seems like FoMoCo kinda forgot they also have Mercury.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "What is is with the "Hope Ford does not screw it up when they bring it over". Have you seen the Fiesta lately? Most people think the US one looks better than the Euro one. And that is just by looking at spy shots."

      Yes I have.....and the Fiesta is a horrid looking car inside and out. It's a Euro Ford that should stay a Euro Ford.

      Let the Europeans drool over that ugly rollerskate.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Future report: UAW goes on strike. Worldwide Kuga production in jeopardy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Except the UAW frequently cites "safety issues" as their reason for striking because it's nebulous and never covered in their no strike clauses. Once they get some sort of concession, the safety problem magically disappears. I wouldn't expect anything, even in writing, to matter if they want to strike.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nope. Part of the UAW agreement is that the Union under contract cannot strike till i think 2012 or 2014, something like that.

        Man the Euro is killing europe over there. Now that the U.S. dollar is tanking, it is going to get alot cheaper to build things here (hence one reason why the Saturn Astra was expensive: built as Opel Astra in europe).

        BTW, that is a nice looking SUV, CUV, whatever. I prefer cars, but it is cool looking
        • 5 Years Ago
        UAW contracts with Detroit automakers have had limited strike clauses for years. Only certain issues were allowed under contract and pay is not one of them. For better or worse, no strike would limit this even further.
        • 5 Years Ago
        isnt this a volkswagon tiguan?
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Matt

        Not striking is based on the fact that Ford will meet the guidelines in the agreement. Strikes sometimes happen over future agreements, not current ones. As well Ford can't say "you haven't done your job right" and fire someone that easily with the UAW so it's kinda even turf.

        Finally, I think Ford, GM and whomever should have said "Have a nice day" to the unions. Fired EVERYONE and said "want a job? apply for it". You can't create better timing for such a thing!

        That's just my opinion!
        Randy
        • 5 Years Ago
        The new Ford UAW contract calls for "No Strike" clause to protect Ford.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Not to mention the fact that this means a bunch of European workers are likely losing their jobs. Not exactly something anyone should be cheering about. I would love to see what would happen if someone on came on here from somewhere other than the states and cheered the loss of American jobs when production on a vehicle was moved out of the US.

      This stuff is all cyclical. The American Dollar is worth next to nothing due to continued poor economic performance and unions are making huge concessions so the cost of production in the US is low. This is hardly a show of confidence in the American economy. When and if things ever rebound in the US and the cost of making vehicles goes up companies will start shifting production out again.
      • 5 Years Ago
      My plant LAP (Louisville Assembly Plant) is the one scheduled to build the Kuga sometime in 2011. The exact date for retooling has yet to be determined. Whether the current vote is for or against the recent changes to the contract will more than likely not effect this plan.

      I think the Kuga is an excellent vehicle and we will be able to assemble them on the same lines as our scheduled 2011 production of the Mariner and Escape with our retooling to a flexible body shop. However, I am disappointed in Ford's choice not to produce a diesel version, which I have heard gets over 50+ MPG's in Europe. I think Ford is missing a big opportunity by not using a fuel-efficient diesel, like their 1986 Ford diesel Escort (a little 4-cylinder I owned which consistently gave me 55 MPG: It was baby blue in color . . . ~shudders~ hehe).

      After reading some of the vitriolic posts here, I felt I should clear up some misconceptions. It probably will not change your opinion, but at least you will have full information about LAP's history and its current quandry over whether to pass the new contract.

      Unlike most other UAW plants, LAP has actually had a pretty good relationship between Ford salaried personnel and its hourly workforce since the late 70's. Our plant during the late 80's and 90's was the fastest production plant in the world (89 jobs an hour). Given this line speed, Ford was making over $9,000 profit per vehicle. I worked production then, and every 42 seconds there was another job to be worked on. It is amazing what your body can get used to over time, but the money and benefits made it worth the struggle.

      Also, during this time, all the major Japanese companies toured our plant to find out how we did it (they were all running at the most 45 to 55 jobs per hour). They found they could not reproduce our successes at home due to the Japanese strict rules of production and its inventory systems. Things they had been told could not work and were not efficient, were found working very well in our plant. This was due not only to good planning, but also the knowledge and willingness of the hourly workforce to apply these plans. Our plant also maintained the highest quality in its class during most of this time.

      Our plant is a victim of its own success however: We produce the Explorer, Mountaineer, and during the 90's, the Mazda SUV (Sorry, I forget its actual name now). Ford is still making enough profit off these SUVs (and the SporTrac) to keep our plant open while others were chosen instead for new products. Ford couldn't give up using our plant as a "cash cow, to help them offset their losses elsewhere. We are currently down to one shift given the steep decline in the sale of large trucks and SUV's. It has more to do with what we assemble, rather than our income and benefits.

      Our workforce has changed to a much younger one (after all the buyouts and retirements). They are making quite a bit less money than the higher seniority workers (part of the concessions we made 4 years ago), but everyone is glad to be working. However, they also wish to hold steady at their current income level (since many have long-term financial commitments, committed to while our plant was successfully producing 200,000+ SUV's a year.) At that time, things appeared good. Ford was making good profits, and the future looked bright. The thing which brought our plant down was the increase in gas prices and thus the market's demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles, not our income and benefits packages.

      About the work assemblers do:

      1. The work is monotonous - the mental fatigue is almost as bad as the physical.

      2. The working conditions uncomfortable - unbearable to the,on average, 45% of newhires who quit our plant before they got their 90 days in - Winters aren't bad but there is no AC on the plant floor except for a few concession areas, which are only used during one's break time. It isn't unusual to work in 96+ degree temps. during the Summer.

      3. The long-term wear on your body is excessive - 100's have had back, neck, wrist surgeries to repair injuries and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome problems. Though, instead of taking off for months, our plant found light duty jobs which were classified as "medical" until workers could return to their regular areas. It helped Ford by keeping them off Worker's Comp. and helped the workers maintain their financial stability. Not sure if this was the case at other UAW plants or not though.

      As to our history with contract changes: We were one of the first plants to approve concessions 4 years ago (to new hire wages/benefits and increases in our contributions to our healthcare costs). We also voted to allow Ford to reopen our contract 2 other times over this past contract, so more concessions could be made. We did this in good faith, with promises of futu
      • 5 Years Ago
      Love the orange interior accents
      • 5 Years Ago
      The new union contract is not a done deal...
      Workers are revolting against the UAW leadership.
      So dont get too excited about the Kuga being built in US.
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