The Ford Motor Company has commenced production of the automatic transmission for the Ford C-Max Hybrid, C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Energi, and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, hiring 225 new employees in the process.
In a $220 million investment, Ford has upgraded its Van Dyke manufacturing facility in Sterling Heights, Michigan, in what the automaker says is the only hybrid transmission production plant for front-wheel-drive cars in North America. Talk about self-subjugation there. Next, is Ford going to say that it has the only janitors who do their jobs while hopping on pogo sticks, too? For what it’s worth, General Motors produces rear-wheel-drive hybrid transmissions for its full-size pickups and SUVs in North America.
The Van Dyke employees now total 1,350 and are part of Ford’s plan to hire 12,000 new hourly workers in the U.S. by 2015.
The transmission the Van Dyke workers build is exclusively for Ford’s new hybrid and plug-in cars, complete with two electric motors inside it to help lessen friction, increase fuel economy, and seamlessly switch between the cars’ gasoline and electric powertrains. It’s Ford’s first in-house-designed and built transmission for for its hybrid applications. Previously, Ford had licensed Toyota hardware from its Camry Hybrid for the Fusion Hybrid and defunct Escape Hybrid.
“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 communities where we do business,” said Jim Tetreault, vice president of Ford’s North American production, in a statement.
In the hybrids, Ford is expecting the transmission to help achieve numbers as high as 47 mpg, which would help put the Ford Fusion Hybrid 5 mpg ahead of the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Yes, the transmission and electric components were shipped in from Japan. When paired with the plug-in powertrain, Ford expects it to be able to help the Fusion Energi achieve as much as 100 mpge.
Ford has made great strides to bring production and technology back to the U.S. after the manufacturing exodus that the industry endured for the previous two decades. While having more jobs in the U.S. making cars for the U.S., it still doesn’t change one thing Ford excluded from its release: The 2013 Ford Fusion is assembled in Mexico.