Ford to hire 7,000 by 2013

By The Associated Press

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. said Monday it is on course to add 7,000 new jobs through the end of next year.

Of those jobs, 1,800 have already been announced for Ford’s Louisville, Ky., plant, where the Ford Escape SUV is built, and another 2,200 blue-collar jobs and 750 salaried jobs will come by year’s end.

Another 2,000 jobs will come next year.

Meanwhile, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford unveiled three new hybrid and electric vehicles as part of its plan to provide more choices for fuel-efficient transportation than any other manufacturer, as well as a seven-passenger small minivan called the Ford C-Max.

The move comes as Ford puts the finishing touches on its 2006 Way Forward turnaround and begins a period of expansion. Ford is expected to post a profit of $8.2 billion for 2010, and sales are stronger than they have been in years. Sales were up 19.5 percent last year.

The automaker is also planning to embark on an aggressive strategy to expand its fuel-efficient car models, with a new emphasis on plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars.

“We are going to have, clearly, the most comprehensive electrification strategy available,” Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally told the Detroit Free Press in a recent interview.

James Tetreault, Ford’s vice president of North American manufacturing, said he expects to add by 2012 a third shift to Ford’s Wayne, Mich., assembly plant where its new models are built, bringing the workforce to 4,400 from 3,200 today.

While Ford might be behind some rivals in offering mainstream electric cars — a market it will enter later this year with the battery-powered Focus Electric compact — the Dearborn, Mich., automaker has taken a deliberately different tack.

Already the No. 1 domestic seller of hybrids, Ford plans to promote the wide variety of fuel-efficient models across its lineup, stressing the words “choice” and “family of electric vehicles.”

Aside from the hybrid Fusion and Escape as well as the Lincoln MKZ, Ford also sells one electric vehicle, although primarily to fleet customers. The Transit Connect Electric van has been on the market since last year and has helped Ford learn about issues and opportunities for electric cars, which the automaker thinks will remain a small part of the market.

Ford, which sold 1.9 million cars and trucks in the U.S. last year, is anticipating annual sales of 5,000 to 10,000 Focus Electrics starting in 2012.