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Ford to make Fusion in US for first time

Union leader Jimmy Settles (left) greeted Ford executive Joe Hinrichs at the Flatrock, Mich., auto plant.

Charles V. Tines /Detroit News via Associated Press

Union leader Jimmy Settles (left) greeted Ford executive Joe Hinrichs at the Flatrock, Mich., auto plant.

FLAT ROCK, Mich. — For the first time, Ford Motor Co. is making its Fusion sedan in the United States.

Its Flat Rock, Mich., plant began making the Fusion on Thursday. The plant made the Ford Mustang before getting a second shift of 1,400 workers to make the Fusion. It now has 3,100 workers.

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Ford had been making about 250,000 Fusions each year in Mexico. But that wasn’t keeping up with demand for the mid-size sedan. Sales this year are up 13 percent to 181,668 through July, making the Fusion a best-selling car.

With the production at Flat Rock, Ford will be able to make 350,000 Fusions each year. The plant was built by Mazda Motor Co. in 1987 and became a joint venture with Ford in 1992. Ford and Mazda severed ties in 2010.

During contract talks with the United Auto Workers union in 2011, Ford agreed to bring Fusion production to Flat Rock. Ford will have to pay US workers more than those in Mexico, where workers make $2 to $3 an hour, but the wage difference isn’t as high as it once was.

In 2007, the UAW agreed that new hires could be paid at half the rate of veteran US workers. All but about 150 of the 1,400 workers manufacturing the Fusion are new and make $15.78 per hour, the company said.

Ford isn’t the only company to move work back to the United States because of lower wages. General Motors Co. moved production of its Sonic subcompact to Michigan from South Korea in 2011.

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