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Old 11-20-2003, 08:07   #1 (permalink)
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U.S.A.:Ford to spend $325 million on new transmissions

Automotive News
Reuters / November 20, 2003

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. on Thursday said it will spend $325 million to build new six-speed automatic transmissions aimed at improving fuel economy in larger vehicles.

The transmissions are designed for rear-wheel-drive cars and trucks, such as SUVs, and promise a 4 percent to 8 percent improvement in fuel economy over the current four-speed transmissions used by Ford and many other automakers, Ford executives said.

Ford said it would spend about $170 million at a Michigan plant and $155 million at an Ohio plant to build the transmissions.

General Motors announced a similar program in January. In October 2002, GM and Ford agreed to jointly develop six-speed automatic transmissions for front-wheel-drive vehicles.

GM and Ford have lagged foreign competitors in recent years, relying heavily on four-speed automatic transmissions while Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. have offered more vehicles with five-speed automatics.

The more gears an automatic transmission has, the more efficiently the vehicle's engine can run.

Ford, GM and other automakers also have promised a few models with continuously variable transmissions, which can be more efficient than other automatics but are more costly and work best with smaller engines.
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Old 11-21-2003, 06:10   #2 (permalink)
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Re: U.S.A.:Ford to spend $325 million on new transmissions

2 Ford plants get $325 million boost

Automaker will upgrade Livonia and Ohio factories to produce 6-speed transmissions

By Ed Garsten / The Detroit News

LIVONIA -- Ford Motor Co. will invest up to $325 million to upgrade transmission plants in Livonia and Sharonville, Ohio, to build a new six-speed, automatic gearbox for rear-wheel drive vehicles.

The move, which comes as rear-wheel drive cars are returning to vogue, is part of Ford's long-term plan to replace 60 percent of its North American transmission lineup by 2008 and improve the fuel economy of its vehicles by 4 to 8 percent.

The investment will allow Ford to catch up with rival Asian and European automakers who have moved faster to replace outmoded three and four-speed automatic transmissions with five and six-speed versions.

"It's a long time coming but they're slowly, but surely making inroads," said Mike Wall, an analyst with industry con******t CSM Worldwide in Farmington Hills.

"All the automakers are looking for that Holy Grail of improvement in fuel economy and a smoother ride."

For Ford, upgrading its family of powertrains line is a key element of a turnaround plan started nearly two years ago.

"Since last November we've invested more than $1.3 billion in powertrain plants in North America," Ford executive vice president Jim Padilla said Thursday.

"Clearly there's a revolution going on under the hood with Ford products."

To produce the new transmission, Ford will spend about $170 million on a new final assembly and advanced testing area, new case and valve-body machining lines and a new main control assembly line at the Livonia plant.

Production of the new gearbox is scheduled to begin by mid-2005. It is the first new product awarded to the Livonia plant since 1984.

The remaining $155 million will be spent to upgrade a factory in Sharonville, Ohio, near Cincinnati to produce gears for the new transmission. The gears will be shipped to Livonia for final assembly.

Ford said the investment is not expected to create any new jobs.

The Livonia plant, first built in 1952 to produce Army tanks, employs more than 2,500 workers. The Sharonville plant employs more than 2,200.

The new transmission will be installed in a number of future Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles including passenger cars and sport-utility vehicles such as the Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer.

Six-speed automatic transmissions, which provide smoother shifting and more fuel economy, represent the next frontier for automotive powertrains, said Dave Szczupak, Ford's vice president in charge of powertrains.

Less than 1 percent of vehicles sold today are equipped with six-speed automatic transmissions, but Ford expects 15 to 20 percent of all cars and trucks to be built with such transmissions by 2010.

Ford is already working with General Motors Corp. to develop a front-wheel drive six-speed automatic transmission that will boost the fuel economy of a typical 4-speed transmission by 4 to 8 percent.

At the same time, the Dearborn-based automaker is gearing up to produce continuously variable transmissions, which substitute a chain belt for traditional stepped gears while providing smoother shifting.

CVTs will be available in the new Ford Freestyle crossover vehicle and Five Hundred and Mercury Montego sedans beginning in 2004.

About Ford's Livonia transmission plant

Employees: 2,605 hourly, 332 salaried
Products: transaxles, transmissions, gear sets, torque converters
Plant size: 3.3 million square feet
2002 output: 1,035,014 automatic transmissions, or 3,700 a day
History: Opened in 1952 to build Army tanks
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File Type: jpg b02ford11.jpg (19.1 KB, 12 views)
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Old 11-23-2003, 19:25   #3 (permalink)
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Re: U.S.A.:Ford to spend $325 million on new transmissions

LIVONIA (MICH.) TRANSMISSION PLANT PLANT BACKGROUND

Located in Livonia, Mich., near Detroit, Ford's Livonia Transmission Plant opened in 1952 to build U.S. Army Tanks. In 2004, the plant celebrates its 40th anniversary of building automatic transmissions. Today, the plant builds 4-speed automatics for the Ford Crown Victoria, Econoline, Expedition, F-150 pickup, Mustang, Lincoln Town Car and Mercury Grand Marquis. In 2005, Livonia will begin production of an all-new 6-speed automatic for rear-wheel-drive sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and passenger cars.

Livonia Transmission employs more than 2,500 people.
The plant sits on 182 acres and totals 3.3 million square-feet, making it the largest transmission plant in North America.
In 2002, Livonia produced more than 1 million automatic transmissions more than 3,700 a day. The plant also produces hundreds of thousands of transmission components a year, including gear sets and torque converters.
Livonia, like all Ford facilities, is certified to the ISO standards for quality and for environmental efficiency.
Livonia supplies Ford plants in the U.S. (Dearborn, Mich.; Kansas City, Mo.; Lorain, Ohio; Norfolk, Va., the Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, Mich.; and Wixom, Mich.), Canada (St. Thomas and Ontario, Canada), and Mexico (Cuautitlan).
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Old 11-23-2003, 19:26   #4 (permalink)
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Re: U.S.A.:Ford to spend $325 million on new transmissions

SHARONVILLE TRANSMISSION PLANT, SHARONVILLE, OHIO

Located in Sharonville, Ohio, near Cincinnati, Ford's Sharonville Transmission Plant opened in 1958. The plant builds 4-speed automatic transmissions for the Ford Crown Victoria, E-Series, Expedition, Excursion, Mercury Grand Marquis, Lincoln Navigator and Lincoln Town Car.

In addition, it builds 5-speed automatics for Fords F-Series Super Duty line of trucks, the Lincoln LS, Jaguar S-Type and Ford Thunderbird. It also makes components for Ford Focus and Ford Escape.

Sharonville Transmission employs more than 2,200 people.
The plant sits on 182 acres and totals 2.7 million square-feet.
Last year, Sharonville produced 800,000 automatic transmissions more than 3,500 a day and since the plant opened in 1958 it has produced 37 million transmissions. The plant also produces more than 7,000 transmission components a day, including gear sets and torque converters.
Sharonville, like all Ford facilities, is certified to the ISO standards for quality and for environmental efficiency.
Sharonville supplies Ford plants in the U.S. (Kansas City, Mo.; Lorain, Ohio; Norfolk, Va., the Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, Mich.; the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Ky.; Wixom, Mich.), Canada (St. Thomas and Ontario, Canada), Mexico (Cuautitlan), and Venezuela and Castle Bromwich, United Kingdom.
In 2001, Sharonvilles Emergency Response Team received recognition from the American Heart Association for treatment of a worker experiencing cardiac arrest.
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Old 11-23-2003, 19:27   #5 (permalink)
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Re: U.S.A.:Ford to spend $325 million on new transmissions

HIGH-TECH FORD TRANSMISSION CENTER HOUSES LATEST IN AUTOMOTIVE TESTING EQUIPMENT

Ford Motor Company's Automatic Transmission New Product Center (ATNPC) in Livonia, Mich., and the employees who run it are playing a critical role in the impressive improvement in the quality of Ford's automatic transmissions.

At the ATNPC, approximately 800 employees work in three main areas: Prototype Operations, Development Lab and Product Engineering.

Prototype Operations machines core transmission prototype components such as cases, valve bodies, gears - then builds and tests the assemblies for all of Ford's North American engineering programs.

Critical system durability testing is among the important functions performed in the Development Lab, which includes 56 dynamometer cells. In recent years, road-load factors have been introduced to "key-life" testing.

"Road-load simulation includes the mechanical inertias that act on a transmission when a vehicle is being driven up or down a hill and when cornering," said Aung Myint, manager, ATNPC Development Lab. "It makes the test more customer focused."

Product design engineers share the same building and get immediate feedback on how their designs go together and perform on test. The ATNPC is part of a complex that includes a test track and one of the most advanced X-ray labs in the country.

"I don't think any other automaker in the world has the combination of facilities on-site that we do here," said Jean Maki, manager, Prototype Operations. "And we're able to make those a competitive advantage because we have an extremely talented group of highly skilled and dedicated machinists, layout inspectors, build technicians, technologists and engineers."

In the one million square foot ATNPC, next to the Livonia Transmission Plant, employees utilize state-of-the-art technology to build and test prototype transmissions.

"This building is a real competitive weapon for us," said Craig Renneker, executive engineer, New Product Programs, Automatic Transmission Engineering Operations. "We can do everything we need to for an automatic transmission right here in one building, under one roof. And we control all of the priorities, which is a great asset for us."

Non-Destructive Evaluation Laboratory

At Ford's Non-Destructive Evaluation Laboratory (or NDE Lab), which is located in the ATNPC complex, Ford engineers use a high-powered Computed Tomography imagining machine to ensure powertrain quality by scanning engines and transmissions for possible defects.

Using the CT machine - among the most powerful of its kind in the world - Ford engineers can X-ray through up to 20 inches of solid steel on either stationary or moving components.

The Livonia complex is the research and development center for automatic transmissions for Ford Motor Company worldwide and also is the home of the largest transmission plant in North America - Ford's Livonia Transmission Plant.
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