Ford said today it has added 130 workers at its Van Dyke Transmission plant in Sterling Heights to begin making a transmission for its hybrid and electric cars.
The company has invested $220 million to reopen 200,000 square feet of a plant that had been idled and plans to add an additional 105 workers at the plant over the next six months.
“It was a ghost town,” said Robb Miller, plant chairman for UAW Local 2280. “We’ve been watching it over the last 18 months go from ugly to gorgeous.”
Ford employs a total of about 1,400 workers at the plant. The additional workers transferred to the plant from other Ford plants.
Jim Tetreault, vice president of North American Manufacturing, said the new transmission replaces a transmission for Ford’s hybrid cars that was previously made in Japan. Production began a few weeks ago.
Tetreault said the hybrid transmission will be made alongside a conventional six-speed.
“We don’t know what the demand is going to be…because the demand varies according to the price of gasoline,” for electric vehicles, Tetreault said. “If we had done a separate line, we may have found ourselves with significant overcapacity or under capacity.”
The new transmission replaces a transmission previously made by Aisin. It will be used in the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid as well as the Ford C-Max Hybrid that will be launched this fall and the Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid that will be launched later this year and eventually the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid.
Tetreault said the $235 million investment is part of $632 million that Ford is investing at three North American transmission plants by 2015.
By: Brent Snavely, Detroit Free Press