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Ford extends its reach to crossover utility market with new Edge

Ford Motor Company of Canada's Oakville Assembly Plant on Jan. 4, 2013.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

A redesigned version of the Ford Edge made in Oakville, Ont., will be shipped to more than 60 countries as Ford Motor Co. looks to take advantage of global growth in crossover utility sales.

Confirmation that the next generation of the Edge will be assembled at the Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. plant in Oakville will be made Thursday at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, sources familiar with Ford's plans said.

The announcement comes about five months after the auto maker announced a $700-million investment to upgrade the plant to enable it to manufacture vehicles on a global platform, or basic underbody. The federal and Ontario governments are contributing about $140-million worth of financial assistance to the project.

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Production is scheduled to begin later this year. The new Edge is one of 23 new or redesigned vehicles Ford will launch this year.

The Oakville plant employs about 2,800 people who make the current version of the Edge and its cousin, the MKX for the auto maker's luxury Lincoln brand. Workers also assemble the larger Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT crossover utility vehicles.

Global sales of utility vehicles grew 13 per cent last year from 2012 levels and Ford hopes to continue expanding its sales by exporting the Edge to such markets as China and Brazil, the sources said.

Ford could also take advantage of the recently signed free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, which will permit duty-free access to the European market for about 100,000 Canadian-made vehicles annually. The free trade deal is expected to phased in beginning in 2015 and tariffs will be eliminated over time.

Auto makers exported about 13,000 vehicles to Europe last year, while importing about 114,000.

The mid-sized Edge was the second-best selling crossover in Ford's lineup in Canada last year, behind the compact Escape.

Ford assembled 258,358 of the four crossovers in Oakville last year, up 1 per cent from 255,924 a year earlier.

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About the Author
Auto and Steel Industry Reporter

Greg Keenan has covered the automotive and steel industries for The Globe and Mail since 1995. He also writes about broader manufacturing trends. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto and of the University of Western Ontario School of Journalism. More

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