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Ford Motor Co. said Friday it will invest $350 million for a new transmission at its Livonia Transmission Plant, creating or retaining 800 hourly jobs.

The Dearborn automaker said it would add new jobs later this year as work begins in the plant, with the majority added next year and in 2019. A Ford spokeswoman would not break out how many new jobs would be added vs. those that would be retained, but said the majority of jobs will be filled by current Ford hourly workers.

The new transmission, expected to offer better fuel economy and performance in future Ford front-wheel drive vehicles, is part of the carmaker’s expansion of fuel-efficient engines.

“We remain committed to American manufacturing and investing in our people and facilities,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford 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.”

Earlier this week, Ford announced it would offer targeted salary buyouts to 1,400 workers in North America and Asia to help it trim costs.

Ford said the investment in Livonia is in addition to an announcement last year of $1.4 billion in spending at the facility, creating or retaining 500 hourly jobs. That investment was for a new 10-speed transmission for the 2017 F-150 Raptor and other F-150s.

This new investment is part of work agreed to as part of the company’s 2015 contract agreement with the UAW. The Livonia plant was to see $1.8 billion of investment for three new transmissions and gear machining in the contract that runs through September 2019. As part of the contract, Ford is adding 8,500 new and/or secured jobs in the U.S. through fall 2019.

The Livonia plant currently employs about 1,800 workers who build six-speed and 10-speed transmissions used in vehicles such as the Mustang, F-150, Transit and Expedition.

“Today’s announcement of investment at the Livonia Transmission Plant is further evidence of the benefits of collective bargaining and the ongoing commitment of UAW-Ford to lead the way in creating and maintaining automotive manufacturing jobs in America,” Jimmy Settles, UAW vice president, said in a statement. “The addition of these 800 jobs will add job security for the plant’s hardworking men and women, and support for the surrounding community.”

Ford has announced more than $2.25 billion in new investments in Michigan over the past four months. The carmaker has invested $12 billion in U.S. plants, creating nearly 28,000 U.S. jobs over the past five years.

mburden@detroitnews.com

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