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Flat Rock — Ford Motor Co. could decide whether it will add a third shift at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant by late next year, a Ford executive said Thursday following a celebration at the plant at which the first 2015 Ford Mustang for retail customers rolled off the production line.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas, said the company would evaluate sales of the Mustang, including in export markets, late next year before determining if a third shift is needed at the the facility. Hinrichs said Ford expects 60 percent of Mustang sales will be in North America, but the pony car also will be available in more than 110 countries.Mustangs with the steering wheel on the right side will be produced for global markets.

Hinrichs said for now there are no plans to add a third shift or crew at Flat Rock, but he noted the plant offers flexibility with some capacity available.

“We’ll see where the demand goes,” he said. “The customer decides.”

The plant employs 3,200 workers, including 3,000 hourly workers represented by UAW Local 3000.

UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who heads the Ford department, is pushing for a third shift and more vehicles to be added to Flat Rock. He said it could be a point of contract negotiations with the automaker next year. A second shift of 1,400 employees was added to the plant about a year ago when Fusion assembly began here. The Dearborn automaker recently invested $555 million into the facility.

“We’re trying to get as many vehicles as we can,” he told reporters. “This is probably the only assembly plant that Ford has that we still have opportunity for capacity.”

U.S. dealers have began taking orders for the sixth-generation muscle car and in some global markets allocations were snapped up in an hour. Ford Vehicle Line Director Marcy Fisher said customers “are dying to get their hands” on them. Workers gathered for the roll out wearing “Job One” Mustang T-shirts.

Hinrichs drove Settles off the line in the first Mustang — a red manual-transmission GT. Both mentioned plans to buy one of the new cars.

Sam Pack, a Texas Ford dealer, paid $300,000 at a January auction to get car No. 1. Proceeds benefit JDRF, a diabetes research organization.

The 2015 Mustang will hit U.S. showrooms this fall; convertibles will be available a few months later. Mustang exports to Europe and Asia are expected to begin early next year.

Fuel economy figures on the new Mustang have not been released. Three engine choices are available. Pricing starts at $24,425.

mburden@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2319

Twitter.com/MBurden_DN

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