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Published: Monday, 1/10/2011

Ford to hire more than 7,000 over 2 years

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. said on Monday it will add more than 7,000 workers in the United States over the next two years, including 750 engineers with expertise in batteries and other advanced technology, as it begins producing several new vehicles.

The company plans to hire 4,000 manufacturing workers this year. Almost half those workers will be at the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky that will make the new Ford Escape starting late this year. It expects to add at least 2,500 new manufacturing jobs in 2012.

The 750 engineers that Ford plans to hire will work on hybrid and electric vehicles.

The company said it is beginning a recruiting effort this week in Detroit and other cities, including San Jose, Calif., and Raleigh and Durham, N.C.

Ford introduced three future electric and hybrid vehicles Monday at the media previews of the Detroit auto show, including an electric version of the Ford Focus which will go on sale in the United States this year and hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the C-Max minivan which will go on sale in 2012.

Ford said the plug-in hybrid C-Max will be able to go 500 miles using a combination of its battery and gas engine, while the hybrid version will get better fuel economy than the hybrid Ford Fusion sedan, which gets 41 miles per gallon. The plug-in hybrid will be able to go longer distances on battery power alone than the regular hybrid, although Ford won't release exact distances yet.

The electric Focus will be Ford's first electric car on the market, although it sells an electric version of its Transit Connect van.

Company Chairman Bill Ford wouldn't say whether Ford can make a profit on electrics and hybrids, which are more expensive to produce, but said the expense will come down as production increases. Ford eventually expects to sell 5,000 to 10,000 Focus electrics annually.

The company also said it plans to hire 6,500 U.S. manufacturing workers over the next two years as it ramps up production of new vehicles.



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