Flex Fallout: Ford lays off 400 employees at Oakville, Ont. plant

Toronto, Ontario — Last week saw about 400 employees laid off at Ford Motor Co.’s Oakville, Ont. assembly plant⁠—a result of the automaker ending the production of the Ford Flex last year, which was built at the Oakville facility.

The layoffs, which took effect on Feb. 1, were announced late last year. A spokeswoman for Ford commented that, in ending production of the Flex and Lincoln MKT, both of which were built at the Oakville facility, the automaker would be allowed to “strengthen [its] focus on products in the heart of the fastest-growing segments to meet shifting consumer demands.”

“Our plant is in desperate need of new product,” said MarkSciberras, president of Unifor Local 707, which represents some 4,200 hourly workers employed at the plant. “Hopefully new product can bring those people back.”

The recent round of layoffs is the second to hit the plant since 2019. Last July, Ford said it would be cutting approximately 200 jobs at the plant amid slowing sales. That announcement was followed by a second one in October, which stated the automaker would end its production of the Flex and lay off around 450 workers as a result.

Ford Flex production, along with the production of the Lincoln MKT, ended in 2019 as a result of slow demand for both vehicles in North America.

The Flex debuted in 2008 and developed something of a cult following, reaching peak sales volume in 2009 with 38,717 units sold in the United States. In 2019, Ford sold less than 25,000 units in the United States, making it the lowest-selling light-truck in the automaker’s lineup. It sold 2,470 units in Canada in 2019.

The MKT was replaced in Lincoln’s lineup by the Aviator crossover, which is assembled at Ford Chicago’s assembly plant.

Ford’s Oakville plant will continue to assemble the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus crossovers, which accounted for most of the plant’s production in 2019.

The plant assembled 247,615 vehicles in 2019, up about 4.3 percent from the previous year. The Flex and MKT accounted for about 11 percent of vehicle production at the plant.

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