Ford Motor Co on Tuesday is scheduled to begin production of its redesigned, aluminum-intensive F-150 full-size pickup truck, a key profit generator for the No. 2 U.S. automaker that will go on sale next month.
The F-150, the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. market for 32 straight years, has contributed the lion's share of Ford's global pretax profit so analysts and investors are watching the launch of the new model closely.
The 2015 F-150 will be initially produced at Ford's assembly plant in Dearborn, Michigan. It will go on sale in December in North America, where the bulk of the demand is, and head to other markets like the Middle East in early 2015.
Ford executives have repeatedly stressed the launch is on target. The company said last month it would add 850 hourly jobs at its Dearborn facilities to support the launch.
Production of the 2015 truck will also begin at Ford's Claycomo, Missouri, plant in the first quarter.
The two plants will have the combined capacity to make more than 700,000 trucks annually.
Ford is in the midst of launching 23 new or redesigned vehicles, including the new F-150. Last month, it posted a lower third-quarter profit and revenue fell because of costs for the F-150 launch.
The aluminum alloy body on the new trucks makes them up to 700 pounds lighter, which will allow for greater fuel efficiency, but Ford has yet to announce fuel economy ratings.