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Ford Keen to Keep 6-Speed Transmission Promise

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Ford Keen to Keep 6-Speed Transmission Promise

By Byron Pope

WardsAuto.com, Oct 26, 2010 9:02 AM

STERLING HEIGHTS, MI – Ford Motor Co. puts it money where its mouth is by investing $850 million to honor a pledge to equip 100% of its vehicles with 6-speed transmissions by 2013.

A “significant” portion of the outlay will enable increased production of the 6F35 6-speed transmission, the auto maker says.

The gearbox currently is featured in vehicles such as the Lincoln MKX cross/utility vehicle and Ford Focus C-car, but the auto maker promises it also will go in “many future vehicles.”

Ford’s investment will benefit Michigan exclusively, shared between transmission plants here and Livonia, an axle plant in Sterling Heights and its assembly site in Dearborn.

The auto maker will produce a new transmission, the all-electric HF35, at Van Dyke. The program gets a boost from a $62 million U.S. Department of Energy grant.

Ford is mum on additional products, but says the investment create 900 hourly jobs and 300 engineering positions.

Most of the positions will be filled by workers on layoff, says Mark Fields, president-The Americas.

Mark Fields says investment could open door to workers earning lower, entry-level wages.

“Currently, we have 190 individuals on indefinite layoff,” Fields says, adding qualified workers also will be invited to transfers to the sites benefiting from Ford’s investment.

Positions that go unfilled likely will be offered to new hires, Fields tells Ward’s here at a media event. Those new hires would be subject to a lower, entry-level wage agreed upon by Ford and the United Auto Workers union.



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