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December 12, 2007

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Ford Opens New Quality Center At Rouge Site For Top Quality Into New 2009 F-150

DEARBORN, Mich. – Ford Motor Company today marks the opening of its New- Model Quality Center at the historic Rouge site to support the introduction and ensure top quality of the new 2009 F-150 pickup next year.

Located in the renovated historic Dearborn Glass Plant, the New-Model Quality Center is designed to take Ford’s quality-focused manufacturing processes to the next level. The center is helping Ford prove out manufacturing, test vehicles and train employees for the next-generation F-150.

“Our recent launches have shown that we are among the best in the industry in quality,” said Mark Fields, president of The Americas, Ford Motor Company. “The New-Model Quality Center at the Rouge will ensure the same top quality for the new F-150 when it goes on sale next fall.”

Vehicle quality soared for Ford in 2007, as customers rated the company’s performance in a variety of important customer surveys equal to or better than the best in the industry.

Ford’s U.S. quality improved by 11 percent – versus 2 percent for the industry overall – according to the Global Quality Research System study. Ford also won 14 vehicle honors – more than any other automaker – in J.D. Power and Associates’ 2007 Initial Quality Study.

“In our design studios, in our product development laboratories and in our manufacturing plants, quality is our top priority,” said Fields. “Our teams are showing incredible discipline in following the processes and adhering to the highest standards.”

Quality is being designed into the 2009 F-150 at the earliest stages of development using highly advanced digital tools. For example, at Ford’s Digital Pre-Assembly laboratory, 18,000 truck design elements are evaluated on computer screens to ensure each part meets Ford’s own high standards, shaped by customer input.

Meanwhile, at the company’s Virtual Build Center, a launch team of engineers, plant employees and suppliers are “building” the new pickup on virtual assembly lines that replicate the Dearborn Truck and the Kansas City assembly plants, where the new F-150 will be produced in 2008.

Due to the rigorous digital processes, manufacturing issues are being virtually eliminated as the first physical prototypes of the trucks are built. The New-Model Quality Center at the Rouge also will help provide training on key assembly processes for a third of Dearborn Truck’s 3,200 employees. Employees will train on workstations built to replicate those in the chassis and final assembly areas. Two workstations allow in-depth study of the 2009 F-150’s new frame. At two additional workstations – with platforms that raise and lower to the employee’s height and job requirements – employees will learn installation procedures of new parts and components.

“Our vehicle quality has shown dramatic improvement this year because we’ve standardized a set of rigid processes throughout the design, development and manufacturing of our vehicles,” said Bennie Fowler, vice president, Ford Quality. “The New-Model Quality Center at Dearborn Truck represents an important part of the quality process in manufacturing.”

The New-Model Quality Center was funded in part by a $208 million investment Ford made in the Dearborn Truck Plant to support the launch of the new 2009-model truck. Ford now has such a quality center at each assembly plant in North America.

The New Ford F-150

The 2009 Ford F-150 will be revealed to the public at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in January. America’s best-selling vehicle and truck leader goes on sale next fall. While Ford is saving product details until the auto show, the company says the F-150 is new inside and out and that it will offer truck customers even more capability, choice and features.

History in the Making

Besides playing a key role in the next-generation F-150, the New-Model Quality Center is important for its role in preserving an historic piece of the Rouge site. The facility was transformed this year into the quality center after renovations to the former Dearborn Glass Plant.

Built in 1922, the glass plant was designed by Albert Kahn and became a symbol of industrial innovation for using natural light. With the front wall and ceiling made of glass, the plant let air and light in and excess heat out, providing a more comfortable work environment for employees. The same ergonomic considerations are one of the hallmarks of today’s Dearborn Truck Plant.

After closing in 1998, the glass plant’s glass wall and ceiling were covered in protective metal siding. As part of the Rouge’s renovation, the metal siding was removed, and the facility was transformed into the new quality center.

Photos: Ford

(Dec. 11, 2007)

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