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Ford's Flat Rock, Michigan, plant is ready to start churning out the 2015 Mustang. The company is celebrating 50 years of Mustang production.

One of the biggest launches in Ford Motor Co.’s recent history is getting underway as the all-new, sixth generation Ford Mustang rolls off the line for the first time at the company’s assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, this week.

“Mustang is and will continue to be an automotive icon,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of The Americas. “Expanding its availability globally affords our customers around the world the opportunity to have a true firsthand Mustang experience – one unlike any other.”

In April, Ford celebrated the 50th anniversary of the original Mustang. To commemorate the event, each 2015 model will be adorned with a badge on the instrument panel that includes the galloping pony logo and the words “Mustang – Since 1964.”

Hinrichs noted the Mustang’s impact goes well beyond the more than 9.2 million cars sold in its 50 years of continuous production. With thousands of appearances in films, television, music and video games and 8 million Facebook “Likes,” it may be the most popular car ever.

The 2015 Ford Mustang is built at on a flexible production line, which allows the maker to produce the Ford Fusion at the same time.

The Flat Rock plant has built Mustangs for the past nine years – surpassing the 1 million mark in 2013 – and in the last year it went through a $555-million transformation that has added a new fully flexible body shop to allow multiple models to be produced on the same line. The plant also produces the Ford Fusion.

In addition, the other technologies recently incorporated into the Flat Rock, which was originally opened in 1987, include a new paint process, dirt detection and laser brazing.

The plant was originally built by the Ford’s former Japanese partner, Mazda Motor Co. However, Ford bought out Mazda’s interest in the plant, which has approximately 3,000 employees working two shifts at full line speed, over a decade ago.

“What an honor it is for the hardworking and dedicated UAW Local 3000 workers of Flat Rock Assembly Plant to build the next-generation Mustang,” said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles. “I don’t think there is any place in the world where this vehicle is not known. To build it right here in Michigan is something to be proud of.”

The 2015 Mustang, which is an automatic contender for car of the year honors, features all-new front and rear suspension systems. At the front, a new perimeter subframe stiffens the structure and cuts weight, which provides better handling, steering and ride.

At the rear is an all-new integral-link independent suspension. Geometry, springs, dampers and bushings are all specially tuned for this high-performance application. New aluminum rear knuckles help reduce unsprung mass for improved ride and handling.

Despite the fact that designers went back to the drawing board, so to speak, they kept the latest iteration to an evolutionary change rather than revolutionary. The Mustang fastback and convertible retained key design elements of the pony car, such as the long sculpted hood and short rear deck.

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Ford is also promising the new Mustang will offer a broad variety of options to fit different budgets and lifestyles. With more options to choose from, including the upgraded V8, which joined by a 3.7-liter V6 and an all-new 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine that brings state-of-the-art technology to Mustang.

Much to the delight of many aficionados, the Mustang GT retains the 5.0-liter V8 – now featuring upgraded valvetrain, new intake manifold and improved cylinder heads – that yields 435 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque.

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The Mustang 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine uses direct injection, variable cam timing and a twin-scroll turbocharger to deliver the performance Mustang drivers expect with an output of 310 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque.

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The 2015 Mustang goes on sales in the U.S. this fall and starting next year will be exported to 120 countries around the world, including more than two-dozen right hand drive markets around

The addition of a right-hand-drive Mustang to Ford’s global vehicle lineup will allow the iconic pony car to be exported to right-hand-drive markets such as the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa.

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