Ford to Invest $400 Million in U.S. SUV Plant

Will add 1,200 jobs and a second production shift at its Chicago Assembly Plant

In order to build a new version of its Explorer sport utility vehicle at a Chicago facility, Ford Motor Co. said on Jan. 26 it was investing nearly $400 million.

Ford chief executive Alan Mulally made the announcement at the Washington Auto Show as the company simultaneously unveiled the plans in Chicago for the next-generation Explorer.

The company plans to add some 1,200 jobs and a second production shift at its at Chicago Assembly Plant and increase production at the nearby Chicago Stamping Plant.

"The new Explorer will redefine the SUV for the modern era -- retaining the capability customers want while delivering superb fuel efficiency, comfort and convenience," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas.

The new Explorer will have at least 25%t better fuel economy than the current model with a car platform, lighter materials and a new six-speed transmission, Ford said.

"Our Chicago Assembly Plant, with its excellent work force, lean and flexible manufacturing processes, and proud history of making great Ford vehicles, is the ideal choice for building the new Explorer," said Jim Tetreault, Ford vice president for North America manufacturing.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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