When oil prices continued shooting skyward and the U.S. economy faltered through the second quarter of this year, Ford announced it would be shifting its focus from trucks to cars. One of the first major steps toward the new product balance is now underway, with $75 million earmarked for retooling the Michigan Truck plant for small-car production.

The funds will go into redesigning the body shop to meet the needs of the model to be produced there. The tooling for the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator that had previously been produced there will be shipped to the company's Kentucky Truck plant, which will have the equipment up and running by the second quarter of 2009. That will create the room to begin producing global C-platform vehicles, such as the European Kuga crossover (pictured), in 2010 at the Michigan site. That plan has been in the works since June at least.

While all of the equipment is moved around and the body shop is reworked, all 1,000 employees of the plant will be moved to the nearby Wayne Assembly Plant, adding a third shift to production of the strong-selling Focus. In June Ford announced it would shut down the Michigan Truck plant for nine weeks over the summer to help cut costs and reign in production.

"This is the best plan to meet consumer demand and utilize our assets at Michigan Truck and other facilities, both in the near term and long term," said Joe Hinrichs, Ford group vice president of global manufacturing and labor affairs.

A similar transition is being planned for several of Ford's other key North American SUV and truck plants. The Cautitlan Assembly site in Mexico, which presently turns out F-series pickups, will be the plant that builds the Fiesta for North America, while the Louisville Assembly plant will shift some of its production from Explorer SUVs to C-platform cars to augment the Michigan site's output.