Ford to Add 7,000 Jobs in U.S.

Ford (NYSE:F) CEO Alan Mulally has announced the automaker plans to add 7,000 jobs in the U.S. over the next two years, and could add as many as 10,000 jobs in negotiations with the United Auto Workers union on an a new four-year contract.

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“We’re still seeing economic expansion,” said Mulally. “It is relatively less than we’ve had following previous recessions. But clearly the recession we went through is the worst that we’ve had since the Depression, so we’re very encouraged by the recovery.”

While growth in European markets has slowed, Mulally says expansion in the Asia-Pacific region remains “substantial”. He plans to increase Ford’s business in Asia to help boost annual global sales a target 50% by 2015, to 8 million. Ford’s U.S. market share rose to 16.8% this year through August, up from 16.7% last year.

“The U.S. industry has been through its worst, and Ford is optimistic about the auto market’s recovery,” said Ashvin Chotai, managing director for Intelligence Automotive Asia. “Ford’s financial situation is very good, with the restructuring and partial recovery. The hiring plan seems flexible and realistic, too.”

Mulally has led the company to earn $9.28 billion in the past two years after $30.1 billion in losses from 2006, when he first became chief executive, through 2008. While the automaker borrowed $23.4 billion in late 2006, of Detroit’s big three automakers, which include General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Chrysler Group, Ford was the only one not to require a government bailout.

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Ford, GM, and Toyota (NYSE:TM) have all been taking advantage of Thailand’s tax incentives and trade arrangements, setting up production facilities in the country, granting them access to Southeast Asia’s 592 million consumers. Ford has invested $1.3 billion in Thailand over the last three years, and in July, signed a $497 million loan agreement with three Thai banks to fund a new manufacturing plant in the eastern province of Rayong. Ford plans to add eight models in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations over the next five years.