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Front-drive Efficiency: Ford to Sink $350 Million Into New Transmissions

LIVONIA TRANSMISSION PLANT

Despite news that Ford Motor Company has started making plans to scale back its workforce in North America and Asia, there are 800 Michigan-based employees who needn’t fear for their jobs — all thanks to commitments made in the company’s 2015 deal with the United Auto Workers. Ford confirmed on Friday that it will be investing $350 million into its Livonia Transmission plant.

Keeping its end of the bargain means the site will be safe from layoffs and may even bring aboard new employees, although the number of new hires is unclear. It’s assumed the majority of the 800 hourly positions will be filled by Ford dipping into its own staffing pool. 

“We remain committed to American manufacturing and investing in our people and facilities,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, said in a statement. “Even as the industry’s largest employer of hourly workers in the United States and biggest producer of American-made vehicles, we believe it is important to continue investing right here in our home market.”

As part of the UAW deal, Ford promised to invest $1.8 billion in the plant and add three new transmissions. Last year, the big announcement was the $1.4 billion going into the production of its new 10-speed automatic, which first rolled out in its F-150 and Raptor pickups. The new investment supports the assembly of a new, advanced transmission for front-wheel-drive vehicles. Ford claims the FWD tranny shares some overlapping design elements and software with the 10-speed and will be mated predominantly to EcoBoost motors.

The new transmission will be engineered to offer improved fuel economy and overall performance in upcoming front-drive platforms. Ford claims it is key part of its plan for more efficient powertrains.

Livonia, known for producing Ford’s 6R transmission, currently employs about 1,800 hourly workers. The new transmission jobs are expected to open up later this year, with the bulk arriving in 2018 or early 2019.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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