Area Development
Ford Motor Co. is investing $220 million to expand its Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, with plans to hire 225 workers and add an assembly line, where workers will build new hybrid-electric transmissions.

The auto maker said its new transmission is the first designed and produced entirely by Ford, which used to get its hybrid transmissions from a Japanese supplier. The transmission will be used in several new vehicles that go on sale this fall. The vehicles include the C-Max hybrid and plug-in hybrid small SUVs and hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ midsize sedans.

Ford said the plant is now the only producer of front-wheel-drive hybrid transmissions in North America. General Motors Co. makes rear-wheel-drive hybrid transmissions at its plant in Maryland.

The new assembly line and other capacity actions at Van Dyke Transmission include the addition of 225 new jobs, part of Ford's commitment to add 12,000 jobs by 2015. The plant recently added 130 jobs as part of the hybrid transmission launch, with the remaining workers scheduled to start work by the end of the month. The Van Dyke facility now has a total of 1,350 workers.

"Our investments in Van Dyke Transmission make it our most advanced, efficient transmission plant in the world," said Jim Tetreault, vice president of North America Manufacturing. "This demonstrates our commitment to bringing jobs and technology back into Ford and North America - actions that not only benefit our employees but our customers and the communities where we do business."

Investments at Van Dyke include manufacturing, capital equipment, launch and engineering costs, and supplier tooling upgrades. New flexible equipment allows the plant to build both HF35 and 6F, a conventional six-speed automatic transmission, at the same time.

Ford said it engineered the HF35 and upgraded the controls with a goal of creating the industry's highest-performing, smoothest-operating hybrid transmission. HF35 will be used in five electrified vehicles being introduced this year to provide customers with a range of fuel-efficient options.

In late 2012, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation approved a state tax credit valued at more than $909 million over 15 years to encourage the company to expand in Michigan over competing sites and create jobs.