Despite all the U.S. fiscal cliff anxiety, Ford has announced that it plans to make yet another major investment in the automotive industry in Michigan. The automaker will reportedly create 2,350 hourly jobs and invest $773 million in six Ford production plants in southeast Michigan over the next two years.
Ford refuses to derail expansion plans
Regardless of the tax impact the fiscal cliff will have, Ford appears to have no plans to slow its expansion for 2013 and beyond, notes the Detroit Free Press.
“We have a lot of investment going on right here in the Detroit area,” said Ford Vice President of North American manufacturing, Jim Tetreault. “There is lots of good news for southeast Michigan.”
The jobs and monetary investments that are a part of Ford’s upcoming expansion were already part of the 2011 contract the automaker forged with the United Auto Workers union. The contract specifies that Ford will fill 12,000 jobs – the bulk of which will go to new hires – and spend $16 billion by 2015 to both expand and update various factories worldwide. In addition, the contract calls for $6.2 billion to be spent in the U.S.
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Of the planned U.S. hires, some have already been filled at Ford’s Flat Rock location in Michigan, where the new Ford Fusion will be produced. Over 1,200 people will still be needed there as a result. Applicants in Michigan are advised to contact the MichiganWorks office closest to their Ford plant of interest.
Ford’s Van Dyke expansion
Ford’s Van Dyke transmission plant is also slated for big expansion. The fact that the automaker increased North American capacity by 400,000 units in 2012 made for a hectic year, and Van Dyke alone produced 1 million transmissions. That number is only set to grow in 2013 and beyond.
“It was the most launches and capacity adds in a year that I have ever had in my career,” Tetreault said.
A new Escape, Focus Electric, Focus ST, C-Max, Fusion and Lincoln MKZ – as well as new engines, battery packs, transmissions, hybrid systems and more – made for quite a year in 2012.
“I’m exhausted. We spent a lot of money, and there’s a lot more coming,” Tetreault remarked.
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Ford Michigan plant breakdown
At Ford’s Michigan Assembly plant, $297 million has been allocated through 2015. A third crew of 1,200 workers were added in May 2012, and this force works to produce the Focus, Focus ST, Focus Electric, C-Max hybrid and the C-Max Energi plug-in. An additional $60 million will be used to increase the number of stamping presses from four to six.
Speaking of stamping, Ford’s Dearborn Stamping plant is to receive a $305 million infusion to double capacity and increase the number of stamp presses that will work on the automaker’s next F-Series.
Ford’s Flat Rock body shop won’t continue making the Ford Mustang, but it will stamp out panels for the Fusion, next-gen Mustang and other vehicles that have yet to be confirmed. The automaker will invest $161 million over the next six months to prepare for Fusion production. This assumes that the Fusion will be popular enough to warrant expanding its production beyond the NAFTA by-product plant in Hermosillo, Mexico.
In Sterling Axle, Tetreault said that Ford will spend $86 million to add lines to create larger all-wheel-drive cars, crossovers, pickups and vans.
The Van Dyke transmission plant will receive resources from other plants and Japanese suppliers, and Ford will invest $88 million on new machines and production equipment, the bulk of which will be purchased in 2013 so that the plant can produce over 1 million front-wheel-drive and hybrid transmissions each year. By 2015, Ford’s $220 total investment at Van Dyke should open the way for 80 percent of the automaker’s North American vehicles to be produced there.
Finally, Ford plans to spend $75 million on its Livonia Transmission plant in Michigan, where a second line will be added to expand capacity to produce rear-drive transmissions for F-Series and Ranger pickups.