Ford to discontinue Flex crossover, laying off 450 workers

Key Points
  • Ford Motor is ending production of the Ford Flex as part of an overhaul of its vehicle lineup through 2020 to shift toward trucks and SUVs.
  • About 450 employees will be displaced at Ford's Oakville Assembly plant in Ontario, Canada, where the Flex is built.
  • The company is also discontinuing this month its Lincoln MKT — a crossover built at the plant.
2019 Ford FLex

DETROIT – Ford Motor plans to lay off about 450 workers at its Oakville Assembly plant in Ontario, Canada as it stops producing the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT crossovers.

The layoffs will occur in early-2020 after Ford discontinues production of the Flex in late-November, according to Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker.

Ford on Monday also said it halted production this month of its Lincoln MKT — a crossover built at the plant on the same platform with similar components as the Flex.

Ford's fight to remain an American icon

Both vehicles are being discontinued as part of a previously announced plan for Ford to redesign or replace 75% of its vehicle lineup by the end of 2020. The plan is specifically focused on expanding Ford's truck and utility lineup and shedding passenger cars, except for its iconic Mustang sports car.

The layoffs are in addition to about 200 job cuts at the plant in September to better match vehicle supply with customer demand.

The Flex, which can seat up to seven people and is known as a "minivan alternative," built a loyal following for its unique design and functionality, but sales of the vehicle never met expectations. Ford sold more than 296,000, or roughly 27,000 vehicles a year, since the Flex arrived in dealerships in 2008.

Oakville Assembly, which employs about 4,100 hourly workers, will continue to produce the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus.

Jerry Dias, president of Canadian labor union Unifor, which represents the Ford workers, said he has submitted a request to meet with the company to discuss future plans for the plant.

"There's nobody surprised about the discontinuation of the Ford Flex," he told CNBC. "We're still waiting for Ford to see what their short-term and long-term plans are ... We need to see where their head is at."

Ford, which is currently in contract talks with the United Auto Workers union, is scheduled to open contract negotiations with Unifor in 2020.

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