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Ford Names Two More Plants Slated For Closure

Ford Motor Co. on April 13 announced two more plants slated for closure under its revitalization plan, aimed at stemming massive losses in the company's North American automotive operations. The Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul, Minnesota, which builds the Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks, and the Norfolk Assembly Plant in Virginia, which builds the Ford F-150 truck, will be idled in 2008, the company said.

The Norfolk plant, which opened in 1925, currently employs 2,275 hourly and 158 salaried workers. The Twin Cities plant, which also opened in 1925, employs 1,750 hourly and 135 salaried workers.

"A decision to end production at a plant is not an easy one, and I'm deeply mindful of the impact this decision has on Ford employees, families and communities," Mark Fields, president of Ford's Americas division, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, these are necessary steps we must take to move the business forward."

Ford has named five other plants slated for closure as part of a plan to shutter 14 facilities and eliminate up to 30,000 jobs.

Ford said the automaker is on track to have 82% of its North American assembly facilities flexible by 2008, up from 38% in 2004 and ahead of the previously announced target of 75%. The flexible facilities will allow the company to maintain its production capacity with fewer facilities, Ford said.

"The Way Forward is a long-term strategy and journey," Fields said. "But we are very satisfied with early progress and momentum, and we remain committed to all of the targets established in what remains a long-term strategy and journey."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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