Flat Rock, Mich., is a hamlet of less than 10,000 people, located at the very corner of Wayne County. And today, it gets a significant upgrade to its biggest asset: the Flat Rock Assembly Plant gets a new name and a new car to build.
The plant used to be known as AutoAlliance, back when it built the Mazda6 alongside the Ford Mustang. Mazda ended production of the sedan last month, as the last Mazda to be built in North America rolled off the line on August 24th. And with that came a new name and production of the 2013 Ford Fusion, which starts today.
Ford maintains full management of the plant, but still co-owns it with Mazda. And it’s already invested $555 million, a second production shift, 2,900 total employees for an increase of 1,200 hourly jobs, an environmentally-friendly paint shop, and a state of the art body shop that can expand for further vehicle production. Increased flexibility is a goal: Ford wants to build multiple products on the same basic chassis, similar to how the C-MAX Hybrid and the upcoming Transit Connect are based on the Ford Focus.
“By fully incorporating Flat Rock Assembly into our manufacturing system, we are able to take advantage of internal efficiencies that will streamline our ability to produce vehicles,” said Jim Tetreault, vice president of manufacturing in North America. “This is critical as we increase our capacity to meet growing customer demand for our products.”
Since it opened in 1987, the plant has seen the Mustang, the Mazda MX-6, the last Mercury Cougar, the Ford Probe, and the Mazda 626 pass through its doors. Since 2005 it’s the only place where the Mustang is built, but the Fusion will also be built in Hermosillo, Mexico, for global export.