By on May 19, 2017


Despite news that Ford Motor Company has started making plans to scale back its workforce in North America and Asia, there are 800 Michigan-based employees who needn’t fear for their jobs — all thanks to commitments made in the company’s 2015 deal with the United Auto Workers. Ford confirmed on Friday that it will be investing $350 million into its Livonia Transmission plant.

Keeping its end of the bargain means the site will be safe from layoffs and may even bring aboard new employees, although the number of new hires is unclear. It’s assumed the majority of the 800 hourly positions will be filled by Ford dipping into its own staffing pool. 

“We remain committed to American manufacturing and investing in our people and facilities,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, said in a statement. “Even as the industry’s largest employer of hourly workers in the United States and biggest producer of American-made vehicles, we believe it is important to continue investing right here in our home market.”

As part of the UAW deal, Ford promised to invest $1.8 billion in the plant and add three new transmissions. Last year, the big announcement was the $1.4 billion going into the production of its new 10-speed automatic, which first rolled out in its F-150 and Raptor pickups. The new investment supports the assembly of a new, advanced transmission for front-wheel-drive vehicles. Ford claims the FWD tranny shares some overlapping design elements and software with the 10-speed and will be mated predominantly to EcoBoost motors.

The new transmission will be engineered to offer improved fuel economy and overall performance in upcoming front-drive platforms. Ford claims it is key part of its plan for more efficient powertrains.

Livonia, known for producing Ford’s 6R transmission, currently employs about 1,800 hourly workers. The new transmission jobs are expected to open up later this year, with the bulk arriving in 2018 or early 2019.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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10 Comments on “Front-drive Efficiency: Ford to Sink $350 Million Into New Transmissions...”

  • avatar
    Car Guy

    Glad for the employees and having some job security. Growing up in that area our neighbor next door worked in that plant. Funny that even though he was a Ford employee he was always getting new Corvettes……..

  • avatar

    Ah good. Maybe they’ll replace that PowerShift piece of junk with something that is actually good. So far they upgraded the world’s jankiest dual clutch box into the world’s slowest one.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, I really wanted to buy a Focus in 2012. But that transmission was *bad*.

    • 0 avatar

      I expect the customers to serve as the beta testers.

    • 0 avatar

      Last summer when I was looking for an off-lease smaller car, there was exactly one non-ST Focus in this area with a stick, and it was el-cheapo trim with wheel covers. No. I really do like the looks and ride of the Focus, but I passed on buying a Focus just because of that piece of crap transmission. I would have done the same with new ones. I am sure 99% of the public doesn’t know it is a crap transmission, but yeah for folks like us it is a non-starter.

    • 0 avatar

      I have the butt ugly 2010 Focus, which has been very reliable. There is much to like in the current hatch, and they handle well, but the trans is a no.

  • avatar

    Hopefully some full model changes are coming with them. Ford’s whole sedan/hatch fleet is ancient.

    I’m curious to see their approach. If they are smart they will take Acura’s- keep the DCTs they invested billions in, but add more gears (2 should be fine) and a torque converter for smooth starts. Best of all worlds…. TC will be locked 99.999% of the time, but starts will be smooth. A FiST/FoST with such a DCT would make for a pretty interesting entrant.

    • 0 avatar

      The new Fiesta has been revealed (but whether the US will get it is unknown), and there are spy photos of the next Focus being tested, so they are coming.

  • avatar

    After PowerShud-d-der, there is definitely room for improvement. Has any modern transmission been worse than PowerShud-d-der? No more DCT’s for me.

  • avatar

    Is this article referring to that 9-speed Ford and GM were working on together?

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