For the first time, Ford Motor Company’s (F) popular Fusion mid-size sedan is being made in the United States. Ford said Thursday that with a $555-million investment, it’s assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan - just outside of Detroit - will begin rolling-out Fusions today as it looks to meet strong demand for the vehicle.
The move by Ford has created 1,400 new jobs in an area that is in a dire financial position with Detroit filing bankruptcy last month. It was the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Ford has tasked itself with a goal of creating 12,000 new jobs in the United States by 2015. The latest new hires have the company more than 75 percent of the way to the objective.
Fusions are currently being made in Hermosillo, Mexico, with three shifts cranking out the cars and still unable to keep up with demand. Fusion sales are up 13 percent in the U.S. in 2013 and Ford thinks that more production will boost those figures. In today’s statement, Ford said that in key markets, Fusions are selling in just 20 days, compared to an industry average of 60 days. It’s high-end model, called Fusion Titanium, are only spending 15 days on the lot.
In China, the Chongqing Assembly Plant 1 also builds the Fusion, which is known as the Ford Mondeo in other markets globally.
Through July, Ford has sold about 182,000 Fusions, putting it third in U.S. sales of mid-size sedans behind the Toyota Camry (242,000 sold in 2013) and the Honda Accord (218,000 sold in 2013). Car sales were released today with industry sales looking like they’re going to reach their highest levels since peaks in 2006. The industry is clawing its way back from a pummeling during the Great Recession that had majors teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and taking government bailouts to survive.
The Fusion is Ford’s second best selling line, ranking only behind its popular F-Series truck line, which has sold about 428,000 units so far this year.
The massive investment was to transform the Flat Rock assembly plant, upgrading the paint department and putting in a state-of-the-art body shop that can weld a variety of Ford model’s bodies, including the Mustang, Fusion, Taurus and Lincoln MKS, amongst other improvements. The plant already assembles the Ford Mustang, with the facility recently celebrating its production of one million units of the iconic sportscar.
The rennovations boost Ford’s production capacity of the Fusion by about 30 percent with the ability to now build about 350,000 annually between Flat Rock and Hermosillo.
"We are thrilled to have added production of Fusion at Flat Rock Assembly Plant – not just for our dedicated workforce here, but for the entire metro Detroit community and the associated jobs it will create," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles in today’s statement. "Together with the domestic automakers and through the collective bargaining process, we are able to bring jobs to the U.S. that were previously located offshore,” he added.
Shares of Ford are trading ahead by 3 percent heading into the lunch break on Thursday, printing $16.54. So far in 2013, shares of F are ahead by more than 30 percent. All stock market connotations aside, the Ford news is a great win for workers in Michigan, where the unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, tying the state for the fourth-highest rate in the U.S.
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