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DETROIT Ford to build Mustang at site it shares with Mazda



Published: Thu, February 13, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The move is part of a shift in production locations .

FLAT ROCK, Mich. (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. said it will build the redesigned 2005 Mustang at a plant it operates here with Mazda Motor Corp., preserving 1,400 jobs.

Since its debut in 1964, the Mustang has been built at the Dearborn Assembly Plant outside Detroit, where Henry Ford once produced the Model A.

The Dearborn plant, built in 1917, is being closed as part of Ford's $2 billion renovation of the Ford Rouge Center. The development, while losing the Mustang production, will include a new plant where Ford will make its new F-150 pickup beginning in mid-2004.

Workers at the former Mustang plant will move to the F-150 plant. The new jobs in Flat Rock will be filled by Ford workers who have been laid off or reassigned in recent months.

Investment

The Ford-Mazda joint venture, AutoAlliance International Inc., announced in August it planned to invest $644 million in new machinery and equipment to expand output at the plant. It revealed production plans Monday.

"We're excited that Mustang is moving to a new home at AAI," said Jim Padilla, president of Ford North America. "As one of America's most widely acclaimed cars, Mustang's legendary name plate will continue to be produced at one of Ford's best assembly plants."

The plant currently produces the Mazda6 sedan but is well below its capacity of 250,000 vehicles annually. At present, AAI employs 1,900 hourly and salaried workers.

Padilla said Ford eventually could produce as many as 140,000 Mustangs a year in Flat Rock, 30 miles south of Detroit.

Car's history

Mustang was introduced April 17, 1964, at the New York World's Fair. Ford expected to sell 100,000 of the vehicles the first year, though dealers took 22,000 orders the first day. Ford eventually sold 418,812 Mustangs that year, surpassing the first-year record held by the 1960 Ford Falcon.

The all-new Mustang, which will go on sale late next year, made its debut at the North American International Auto Show last month in Detroit. It, along with the F-150 pickup, is considered crucial to Ford's ongoing turnaround.

Ford's U.S. market share fell to 21.3 percent in 2002 from 22.9 percent in 2001, but company executives have predicted gains in all global markets this year.

AAI will be among the first wave of Ford plants to install next-generation flexible body systems. The body shop will have a second production line that can accommodate several models or body styles.

"We'll have the ability to change the mix, volume and options of products, all with minimal investment and changeover loss," AAI president Phil Spender said.




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