- THE MAGAZINE
- WEB EXCLUSIVES
FLAT ROCK, MI— Supporting its Fusion production growth plans, Ford is adding 1,200 jobs, a second production shift, and investing $555 million at the former AutoAlliance International plant, now the Flat Rock Assembly Plant, new U.S. production home of the 2013 Ford Fusion as well as the iconic Mustang .
The plant will feature a state-of-the-art, fully flexible body shop and an upgraded paint shop with an environmentally friendly 3-Wet paint process when production begins in 2013.
"The new Flat Rock Assembly Plant symbolizes the growth driven by our One Ford plan," says Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas. "Ford continues investing in people, products and plants to deliver the head-turning, fuel-efficient, fun-to-drive vehicles people really want, including the all-new Fusion."
Previously known as AutoAlliance International, Flat Rock Assembly is now under the full management control of Ford. The plant continues to be owned by a joint venture that is split 50/50 between Ford and Mazda Motor Corp.
Following the end of Mazda6 production last month, the plant will continue to produce the Mustang before adding Fusion next year.
Flat Rock Assembly will be the U.S. producer of Fusion, employing 2,900 workers on both vehicle lines.
In addition to adding 1,200 new hourly jobs tied to Fusion production, Ford also is investing $555 million to build a state-of-the-art, fully flexible body shop capable of producing multiple vehicles. With each new major plant program, Ford is significantly increasing the flexibility of its equipment and facilities to build multiple vehicles at one location. By 2015, Ford will be able to produce 25% more derivatives per plant versus 2011 on a global basis.
Ford also is upgrading the plant's paint shop with an environmentally friendly 3-Wet paint process. The 3-Wet process, which Ford is rolling out across more than 15 assembly plants globally, allows three layers of paint to be applied one after another while still wet, with less manual intervention, resulting in a superior product created with fewer pollutants and less expense.
"By fully incorporating Flat Rock Assembly into our manufacturing system, we are able to take advantage of internal efficiencies that will streamline our ability to produce vehicles," says Jim Tetreault, Ford vice president of North America Manufacturing. "This is critical as we increase our capacity to meet growing customer demand for our products."
Introduced six years ago, Fusion is part of the fastest-growing segment in the U.S. this year – midsize sedans. Ford expects the midsize sedan segment, which totaled 2.1 million vehicles in 2011, to continue growing. Fusion's share of the segment has doubled to 12% since it was introduced, and the car has set sales records in five of the first seven months of this year.
Opened in 1987 as Mazda Motor Manufacturing USA, the plant in Flat Rock first produced the Mazda MX-6. In 1992, Ford purchased a 50 percent share in the plant and it was renamed AutoAlliance International. Over the years, the plant produced the Mazda 626, Mazda6, Mercury Cougar and Ford Probe. Mustang production was shifted to the plant in 2005.