Ford Motor Co plans to add 1,800 autoworker jobs and invest $600 million to overhaul its Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky, which will make the next generation of its Escape small SUV.

Ford said construction on the plant would begin this month and include a new body shop. The plant is scheduled to reopen in late 2011. It will have a total workforce of about 2,900 working two shifts, up from 1,100 now, Ford said.

Ford said it would signal the direction of the next-generation Escape with a prototype to be shown at the Detroit auto show in January.

State and local governments have committed as much as $240 million in tax incentives over the next 10 years, Ford said.

Once the Louisville's second-shift workers are added, Ford will have almost 6,600 employees in Kentucky, said Mark Fields, who heads up operations in North America and South America.

Ford says that the overhauled plant will be the automaker's most flexible, with the ability to build up to six different vehicles at the same time.

Jim Tetreault, Ford's vice present for North American manufacturing, said the new Escape is only the first vehicle to be announced for manufacture at the Louisville plant.

We are building in the flexibility to produce other vehicles at the plant in the future, depending upon volume requirements, customer preferences and other factors that affect vehicle demand.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Matthew Lewis)