Ford to Cut 900 Workers at Mustang Production Plant

Ford Motor Company has announced that it will eliminate one shift at its AutoAlliance plant in Flat Rock, Michigan. Ford spokeswoman, Marcey Evans, said the move, which will affect 900 workers, is being made to increase the operation’s efficiency and will take effect in July.

The plant, which is jointly owned by Japanese automaker Mazda Motor Corporation, employs approximately 2,300 workers, and Evans said the facility was idle for extended periods in 2009. She said the elimination of a shift will allow the automaker to increase line speed and production volumes in a much more stable pattern.

She said that the majority of workers being cut from Ford’s Flat Rock operations will be given the opportunity to transfer to other plants.

Evans said, We’ll be talking with employees over the coming months about their opportunities, and added, It’s too early to give a number on how many will stay.

Displaced workers will have at least two options available following the shift reduction at the Flat Rock plant. Evans said Ford plans to add 1,200 new workers to its Chicago plant and is also looking to increase the workforce at its Wayne, Michigan assembly facilities. In Chicago, Ford is ramping up production capabilities as it launches the next-generation Explorer SUV. It also plans to begin production of the 2012 Ford Focus at its Wayne plant.

Workers who do not receive transfers will be given a buyout package in line with Ford’s current contract with the UAW.

Despite the reductions in employees and shifts, Evans said the automaker anticipates producing more Mustangs at the Flat Rock plant in 2010 than were produced last year. In 2009, the facility cranked out 102,000 units.

Evan’s optimistic forecast is in stark contrast to recent sales numbers. In 2009, Mustang sales fell by 27% year-to-year. For the plant’s co-owner, Mazda, the numbers were even worse. In 2009, sales of the Mazda6 (which is also produced at the Flat Rock plant) fell by 34% from 2008 levels.

Mustang sales have lagged far below those of its direct competitor, the Chevrolet Camaro, for eight consecutive months. In January, Camaro sales outpaced Mustang sales 5,371 to 4,747.

Chevy reintroduced the Camaro this past March after discontinuing its production in 2002. At that time, Mustang had outsold the Camaro for six straight years.

Ford will place a new V-6 3.7-liter engine under the hood of the 2011 Mustang in an attempt to regain its former sales dominance. The new V-6 will deliver more horsepower and one highway mpg more than the Camaro.

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