Ford Emphasizes Fuel-Efficiency, Employment in Capital Plans

$850 million in Michigan will support six-speed transmission conversion, among other projects

Ford Motor Co. reports it will invest $850 million at plants in Michigan between 2011 and 2013, largely as part of its effort to design and manufacturer fuel-efficient vehicles. Expanding its engineering and manufacturing base and upgrading its facilities are other objectives the automaker indicated for the investments.

The capital program will be aided by a new series of incentives the state is considering to induce manufacturers to invest in new fuel-saving technologies and facilities.

Currently, Ford has a $950-million effort underway to convert its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., to produce cars (including the battery electric Focus and other hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles) rather than SUVs. That project will be completed in 2012 for the start of production for the 2013 model year.

Ford promises the new program — yet to be approved in detail — will establish up to 1,200 new full-time positions for Michigan manufacturing and engineering operations by 2013, including the Van Dyke Transmission, Sterling Axle, Livonia Transmission and Dearborn Truck plants. Approximately three-quarters of these will be hourly positions and the remainder to be salaried jobs, according to Ford.

The only specific example that the automaker offered concerning its latest announcement is “additional investment” in engineering and production of Ford's new six-speed transmissions, which will be produced at the Livonia Transmission and Van Dyke Transmission plants. Ford’s fuel-economy programs call for all of its vehicles to feature a six-speed transmission by 2013.

"Fuel economy and technology are consumers' biggest priorities – and we have made them Ford's as well," stated Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "We are pleased to work with state and local government leaders to find new ways to work together, invest in our people as well as Ford facilities, further improve our competitiveness and secure jobs in Michigan."

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