LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Ford Motor Co. will announce Thursday plans to bring on 1,200 new workers to its Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri as it adds a second shift that will build the Transit commercial van. The new shift will begin in November, Ford said.

The addition of the new Kansas City workers completes — and exceeds — Ford's 2011 promise to the United Auto Workers to create 12,000 U.S. hourly jobs by 2015.

"Adding a second shift to Kansas City Assembly Plant adds more jobs to this community, and it also helps deliver more Transit vehicles to more customers throughout North America," Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, said in a statement.

UAW vice president Jimmy Settles said, "This is possible because of the collective bargaining process and the partnership between UAW and Ford,"

Ford previously added 2,800 workers to the plant in 2013 and 2012 to support the Transit introduction and increased F-150 production.

The sprawling 4.7-million-square-foot facility will employ more than 6,000 hourly workers by the end of the year.

Workers at the Kansas City plant also make Ford's F-150 regular cab, SuperCab and SuperCrew pickups. The plant will undergo a changeover next year as new equipment is installed to make the aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150. The Transit and F-150 are built in two separate areas of the plant, and their production does not interfere with each other.

The Transit replaces Ford's E-series van, first sold in 1961 as the Econoline. The E-Series was the best-selling commercial van in the United States for 34 years.

The new van comes with a standard 3.7-liter V-6 that Ford says gets 19 percent better gas mileage than the E-Series and its standard 4.6-liter V-8.

The Transit has multiple configurations, including three body lengths, two wheelbases, three roof heights and van, wagon, chassis cab and cutaway variations. The Transit in some iterations can have up to 75 percent more cargo room than the largest E-Series.

Last month, Transit posted its first large fleet order after Missouri-based cable operator Charter Communications ordered more than 800 low-roof, regular-wheelbase vans.

Nearly 1,100 Transits were sold in August, and Ford has sold 2,085 since the van launched in June.

The commercial van segment, which Ford has succeeded in for years, has recently grown more crowded with entries like Chrysler's ProMaster and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

In 2011, Ford invested $1.1 billion to retool and expand the Kansas City facility for Transit production and to support surging customer demand for F-150. Expansion projects include the addition of a 437,000-square-foot stamping facility and a 78,000-square-foot paint shop.

MMartinez@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2401

Twitter.com/MikeMartinez_DN

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://detne.ws/1ss1uUR