|Design for "Car a Deux Roues" 1870 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Chicago does not think of itself as a city that makes cars. That would be Detroit. Or Belvidere.
But it is. Chicago has been turning out automobiles for almost a century, at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant on Torrence Avenue.
The plant began putting together Model Ts in 1924 and has been producing automobiles ever since, lately employing 5,000 workers in three shifts, running seven days a week, completing a shiny new vehicle about every minute.
We were so pelted with news last week, between the Korean War abruptly ending and the various thrashings of the president, it was easy to overlook an event that would have been considered dramatic if the world weren’t churning so vigorously around it:
Ford is going to stop making cars.
For the most part.
The company’s first quarter report, issued last Wednesday, contains a variety of news: revenue up 7 percent, the investor meeting will be Sept. 26.
Then toward the bottom of the first page, Ford drops the bomb:
“By 2020, almost 90 percent of the Ford portfolio in North America will be trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles. Given declining consumer demand and product profitability, the company will not invest in next generations of traditional Ford sedans for North America. Over the next few years, the Ford car portfolio on North America will transition to two vehicles — the best-selling Mustang and the all-new Focus Active crossover coming out next year.”
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