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Ford to shut down Transit lines for a week

Transit’s U.S. sales fell 15 percent last month and are down 21 percent to 80,292 units through the first eight months of the year.

Ford Motor Co. plans to shut down Transit production at its Kansas City Assembly Plant for seven days starting next week amid slumping sales for the nation’s best-selling large van.

Thousands of union workers who build the Transit on two shifts will be placed on temporary layoff beginning Monday, Sept. 25. They will return to work Oct. 2, according to UAW Local 249, which represents the plant’s employees.

Ford also builds the F-150 in Kansas City; the pickup’s production will go on uninterrupted.

“We continue to match production with demand, as we always do,” a Ford spokeswoman said in a statement.

The Transit was the best-selling large van in 2016, but sales fell 15 percent last month and are down 21 percent to 80,292 units through the first eight months of the year, according to the Automotive News Data Center. The Transit, however, is still outpacing competition that includes the Chevrolet Express, GMC Savana, Ram Promaster, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Nissan NV.

Ford CFO Bob Shanks early this year told analysts “don’t be surprised” if Ford trims vehicle inventory to avoid a glut of unsold vehicles on dealer lots.

Ford had an 81-day supply of vehicles as of Sept. 1, up from 77 the prior month. That included a 103-day supply of Transits, down from a 232 days the prior month.

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