If the revival of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) is signified by the size and strength of its U.S. workforce, the automaker is making major progress. Ford launched U.S. production of the Fusion sedan with 1,400 new hires at its Flat Rock, Michigan plant Thursday. The company is now more than three quarters of the way toward its goal of 12,000 new U.S. salaried employees by 2015, according to a company statement, and union officials suggest a higher total may be in the offing.
The Fusion has been a hit for Ford since it revamped its midsize sedan for the 2013 model year. Fusion sales are impressive for 2013, up 13 percent compared to last year, according to the automaker’s figures. Mexican plants have been responsible for Fusion production until this crew was added to the Flat Rock Assembly Plant, giving Ford the capability to produce 30 percent more Fusions (350,000 total) per year, according to a company statement.
While it was a celebration day for Ford, the United Auto Workers were also in high spirits at the Flat Rock launch. Jimmy Settles, the UAW vice president, described the event as a homecoming. ”Together with the domestic automakers and through the collective bargaining process, we are able to bring jobs to the U.S. that were previously located offshore. Fusion production in Flat Rock is a key part of that,” Settles said in the Ford company statement. He also said he could envision much more hiring ahead.
Settles of the UAW told The Detroit News Ford could be adding another 8,000 jobs following the completion of its hiring of 12,000 within the next 16 months. Settles told the news outlet, “it’s something we are trying to strive for,” referring to the return of manufacturing jobs to U.S. shores. Optimism was high among Ford officials, yet company executives on hand did not offer much commentary on Settles’ projections.
“That’s an interesting number,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of U.S. operations, told The Detroit News when quoted the estimates of Settles. Regardless, Ford and the UAW were ecstatic about the revamped Flat Rock plant and the company’s ability to hire some 6,500 new employees already in 2013. Flat Rock’s Plant, which once produced Mazda (MZDAY.PK) vehicles, is the site where the famed Mustang is manufactured.