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Ford Planning up to 25% More Products per Plant

Mazda out, Ford has big plans for Flat Rock factory.

by on Sep.10, 2012

Ford President of the Americas Mark Fields at the renamed Flat Rock Assembly Plant.

By 2015, Ford plants around the world will be able to produce 25% more vehicles and their derivatives than they could turn out in 2011, company officials said Monday.

Increasing the range of models rolling off a single assembly line should help the maker better balance production and demand, said Mark Field, Ford president of the Americas, during an appearance at the maker’s plant in the southern suburbs of Detroit.

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Long known as AutoAlliance, that plant was operated as part of a joint venture with Mazda Motors. The Japanese maker built its last Mazda6 sedan there last month, however, and Ford has now taken full control of the facility, renaming it the Flat Rock Assembly Plant – a reference to the town where it is base.

“The new Flat Rock Assembly Plant symbolizes the growth driven by our One Ford plan,” said Fields, adding Ford will be adding a second shift at the Flat Rock plant in the first half of 2013.

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Ford Planning Big Bump in US Production Under New Contract

Maker will shift work back to U.S. from Mexico, Europe.

by on Oct.04, 2011

Ford will build both plug-in and conventional hybrid versions of the new C-Max in the U.S. under the new UAW contract.

Ford Motor Co.’s new contract with the United Auto Workers Union also contained a revealing amount of information about the company’s future production plans — which now appear to include a large bump in U.S. operations.

Along with $6,000 signing bonuses, enhanced profit sharing and $7,000 in inflation protection, the tentative 4-year agreement will add at least 5,750 new UAW jobs, Ford officials announced, with the company acknowledging $6.2 billion in additional investments in products and plants – bringing to $16 billion the commitment it has now made.

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Among the most critical developments, the union appears to have saved the AutoAlliance plant in the Detroit suburb of Flat Rock, which had been operated as a Ford/Mazda joint venture.  The Japanese maker plans to pull out production of its Mazda6 and though it has suggested it might switch to a replacement, that isn’t considered likely.  So, with only the Mustang to build the plant had seemed doomed to closure.

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New Settlement Will Increase Ford’s Competitiveness – Yield New Jobs and Investments

Maker hoping it will also trigger a credit rating hike.

by on Oct.04, 2011

The new UAW contract should result in Ford's maintaining the AutoAlliance plant in suburban Detroit which now builds the Ford Mustang and Mazda6. Mazda plans to abandon the plant.

Ford Motor Co. will increase by $16 billion its investment in North America while adding 12,000 new jobs, the maker announced as it confirmed reaching a tentative new contract with the United Auto Workers Union.

While declining to release specific details of the settlement, which was reached in the wee hours of the morning after more than two months of bargaining – and nearly three weeks after the union reached an agreement with General Motors – Ford officials stressed that the new contract will “improve our overall competitiveness.”

Ford is also hoping that, much like the GM agreement, the new contract will be received well by credit rating agencies.  Ford CEO Alan Mulally has made it a top priority to return to investment grade.  S&P last week indicated it would consider an upgrade if the Ford contract appeared similar in its advantages to the settlement won by GM.

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“We believe this agreement,” said Ford EVP John Fleming, “will enable us to increase our overall competitiveness in the United States,” something he underscored by noting the 4-year contract, if ratified, “will also permit us to insource work from Mexico, China, Japan and other parts of the world.”

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Ford Pumping $500 Mil into Engine Plant in Bid to Grow Chinese Share

Late to market, Ford paying a steep price to catch up.

by on Jun.17, 2011

Ford's new engine plant will help support the rapid growth of its Chinese product line-up, which now includes models like this Mondeo.

Changan Ford Mazda Automobile, Ford Motor Company’s passenger car joint venture in China, has launched construction of a new, state-of-the-art engine plant in Chongqing. The $500 million investment will more than double CFMA’s annual engine production capacity in China to 750,000 units when it comes on line in 2013.

Along with a variety of other moves, including plans to add a second assembly plant to support the addition of 15 new products, Ford is working hard to establish itself in China.  The maker was initially reluctant to enter what has now become the world’s largest automotive market – and is paying a price for that delay.  Ford currently holds less than a 3% share of the Chinese market while that country’s top maker, General Motors, has a 15% share.

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“Today’s ground-breaking ceremony represents yet another milestone in Ford’s accelerated expansion plan for China. This plan reinforces our commitment to aggressively grow the Ford brand in China and offer a full range of exciting, fuel-efficient vehicles to Chinese customers,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa.

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Mazda Moving Mazda6 Production Back to Japan

Maker still studying “future opportunities” for U.S. plant.

by on Jun.06, 2011

Mazda confirms it will pull production of the Mazda6 sedan out of the U.S.

Mazda has confirmed that it will end U.S. production of its Mazda6, the next-generation midsize sedan to be built at its main plant in Japan.

But the maker says it is still studying “future opportunities” for the suburban Detroit factory it currently operates as part of a decades-old joint venture with Ford Motor Co.  Industry insiders nonetheless Mazda will eventually pull out of the partnership, which could lead to the closure of the factory, which currently produces both the Mazda6 and the Ford Mustang.

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Currently, Mazda produces the slow-selling Mazda6 at three factories, the AutoAlliance International facility in Flat Rock, Michigan, the FAW plant in Changchun, China, and the maker’s main assembly line, in Hofu, Japan.

With demand down it makes little sense to keep production spread out, acknowledged Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi, confirming recent media reports, including an extensive analysis on TheDetroitBureau.com last week.

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Mazda Reportedly to Stop Building Cars in U.S.

Maker will leave long-time joint venture with Ford.

by on Jun.03, 2011

Mazda is expected to abandon the U.S. plant it now operates with Ford and may also cancel production of the midsize Mazda6.

Mazda appears ready to end a nearly quarter century-old joint venture with Ford Motor Co. and stop producing cars in the United States.

The apparent decision reflects the fact that Ford has sold off all but a small portion of its holdings in the Japanese maker – as well as the reality that the Mazda6 model produced in the Flat Rock, Michigan plant has not been doing well in the American market.

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Officially known as AutoAlliance International, the plant was opened in 1987 and marked the high-water point in the long-running relationship between Mazda and Ford.  The U.S. maker had acquired a controlling stake in its Asian ally, which was then struggling to overcome a series of setbacks.  Ford even got to name the CEO at Mazda and appointed a number of Western managers – a rarity at the time.

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Will Mazda Abandon Michigan Assembly Plant?

Maker could turn factory over to Ford.

by on Feb.21, 2011

Mazda may seen be looking for a new place to build the midsize Mazda6 sedan.

Continuing to unwind their decades-old relationship, Mazda Motors is considering whether to walk away from the Michigan assembly plant it operates as part of a joint venture with Ford Motor Co.

The move would be the latest in a generally genial corporate divorce that was triggered by Ford’s decision to sell off most of its stake in Mazda, last year.  At one point, the U.S. maker was the dominant shareholder in its Japanese partner, but Ford now holds just a 3.5% stake.

A final decision on whether to maintain the AutoAlliance International joint venture will be announced later this year, said Mazda Chief Financial Officer Kiyoshi Ozaki.  If Mazda does pull out of the two-decade-old Flat Rock plant the future of the factory would be left in jeopardy, industry observers warn.

The factory has the capacity to produce 240,000 vehicles annually, and needs to build at least 170,000 to break even, according to Ozaki.  But last year it produced just 114,000 – 36,000 Mazda6 sedans and 78,000 Ford Mustangs.

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Ford Reduces Stake In Mazda, But Relationship Continues

Few changes in store, suggest officials.

by on Nov.19, 2010

Though they worked together on the underlying platform, Ford and Mazda have drifted apart since beginning work on the Fiesta and Mazda3 models.

Ford Motor Co. will sharply reduce its once commanding stake in Japanese automaker Mazda, reflecting the continuing shift in focus by the American automaker towards its core “Blue Oval” Ford brand.

Despite the cutback, which means Ford will no longer be Mazda’s single-largest shareholder, the two makers insist little will actually change in their decades-long relationship.

Ford will generate $370 million by reducing its stake in Mazda from the current 11% to just 3.5% in a deal completed today. (TheDetroitBureau.com had originally reported on the planned sale last month.)

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It’s a sharp shift in their long-standing ties, which date back to the 1970s, when Mazda began supplying Ford with transmissions.  By 1979, as the Japanese maker struggled to deal with ongoing financial problems, Ford expanded its stake to the point it became Mazda’s largest shareholder.  The stake eventually grew to 33.4% which, under Japanese law, put Ford into a position to name its own management team.

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Ford To Sell Off Most Of Remaining Mazda Stock

Last-minute hurdles still could scuttle deal, sources say.

by on Oct.19, 2010

Ford is now ready to go it alone without the help of long-time ally Mazda when developing replacements for products like the 2011 Fiesta.

Ford Motor Co. appears ready to sell off most or all of its remaining stake in Japan’s Mazda Motor Corp., several industry sources have confirmed.

Such a move would not only relinquish Ford’s role as the largest Mazda shareholder but also end what has been the longest in-depth relationship between a U.S. and Japanese automaker – one that has helped both makers develop an array of products that might not have been able to bring to market on their own.

The sale, if completed, would mark another milestone in Ford CEO Alan Mulally’s so-called One Ford strategy, which has already led the U.S. maker to sell off an assortment of foreign luxury brands, including Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo.

In fact, one of Mulally’s first big moves, in 2008, shortly after joining the Detroit maker, was to cut Ford’s stake in Mazda from 33.4% to 13%.  That figure has since declined to 11%.

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“We’re not commenting about reports on our shareholding in Mazda,” Ford spokesman Mark Truby told TheDetroitBureau.com.  “We have a close relationship with Mazda,” he added, “that spans 30 years.”

But other sources, both in the U.S. and Japan, told TheDetroitBureau.com that Ford is, indeed, negotiating a sell-off of its remaining stake – which was once large enough that the U.S. maker was able to appoint its own representative to run the Japanese company.

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What Would It Take To Revive Ford Ranger?

The demise of the chicken tax?

by on Sep.02, 2010

Could Ford bring the new Thai- (or South African-) made Ranger to the U.S. after all?

It was once among the most popular trucks in America, but two recent events suggest the Ford Ranger will soon go away – or will it?

Despite the offer of significant new incentives from the State of Minnesota to keep open the current U.S. Ranger plant, Ford says the factory doesn’t have any use after 2012, when it plans to pull the truck from production.  At the same time, Ford is investing $350 million – along with Japanese partner Mazda – in a Thai plant that will build the new Ranger.  But there are no plans to bring that truck to the U.S.

Ford isn’t the only one fleeing the compact pickup segment at home. Chrysler has said the Dodge Dakota will end production next year, though Dakota may be replaced by a small unibody pickup. Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon production is also expected to end by 2012, leaving only Toyota, Nissan and potentially India’s Mahindra & Mahindra as the remaining players in the U.S. small pickup market.

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The segment has declined steeply over the last decade in the U.S. because buyers have fled compact and midsize trucks as their sizes have increased along with prices to near full-size levels and the platforms have aged in favor of updates for light- and heavy-duty pickups, which have higher profit margins.

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