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LIVONIA, Mich., Nov. 20, 2003 – Pushing to improve fuel efficiency and maximize performance and smooth operation, Ford Motor Company is investing up to $325 million in two transmission plants to build an all-new, rear-wheel-drive 6-speed automatic transmission.

This includes an investment of $170 million in Ford’s Livonia (Mich.) Transmission Plant and $155 million for its Sharonville (Ohio) Transmission Plant, near Cincinnati. Since November 2002, the company has invested more than $1.3 billion in tooling and equipment at its North American powertrain plants.

“What we are trying to do with the new vehicles we introduce is to maximize our impact in improving fuel efficiency thereby reducing CO2 emissions as well,” said Jim Padilla, Ford Motor Company executive vice president and president of the Americas. “These new transmissions provide an average of 4 to 8 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over a traditional 4-speed automatic, so this is a trend with environmental impact worth noting.

“By 2008 more than 60 percent of Ford’s transmissions will be new, including new 6-speeds and continuously variable transmissions,” Padilla added. “Wherever we go…whatever we do…we will deliver for our customers. And we are going green.”

“Today less than one percent of all vehicles sold in North America have 6-speed automatics, so this is a unique transmission,” said Dave Szczupak, vice president, Powertrain Operations, Ford Motor Company. “By 2010, 15 to 20 percent of vehicles sold in North America will have 6-speeds, and by 2015 it will be about 50 percent. Twenty-five years ago, the average American was driving a car with a 3-speed automatic.”

“There is a revolution going on under the hood at Ford,” added Szczupak. “We are introducing an unprecedented number of new engines and transmissions between now and the end of the decade.”

Livonia will assemble the new transmission, and Sharonville will machine and assemble the transmission’s gears, the heart of an automatic. Sharonville will produce up to 7 million gears annually for the new transmission, and ship the assembled gears to Livonia for final assembly.

Production of the new transmission will begin at the Livonia plant by the middle of 2005, with gear production also beginning at Sharonville in 2005. This is the first all-new transmission awarded to the Livonia plant since 1984. Sharonville started building a new transmission a year ago, the new TorqShiftÒ 5-speed automatic – for Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks – and also builds a variety of 4-speed and 5-speed automatics.

To build the new 6R, the Livonia plant is receiving:

A new final assembly and advanced testing area
New case and valve-body machining lines
New main control assembly line (routes hydraulic fluids)
The all-new, more efficient 6-speed will transmit power to a variety of future Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles, including sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and rear-drive passenger cars.
“The powertrain is the heart of any great vehicle, so transmission performance is critical to the overall perception of quality in a vehicle,” said Louise Goeser, vice president, Quality. “And at Ford Motor Company, transmission quality and customer satisfaction are higher than they have ever been.”
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