Ford launches '15 Mustang output in Michigan

Ford is adding 25 right-hand-drive markets and 56 left-hand-drive markets for a total of nearly 120 countries where the Mustang will be sold.

Photo credit: REUTERS
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DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. officially launched production of the redesigned Ford Mustang coupe today at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Mich.

With the 2015 model, Ford is making the Mustang to suit global tastes for the first time. That will include a first-ever right-hand-drive version.

Ford is adding 25 right-hand-drive markets and 56 left-hand-drive markets for a total of nearly 120 countries where the pony car will be sold.

All Mustangs will be built in Flat Rock. The plant also produces the Fusion midsize sedan.

Ford said production of the 2015 Mustang convertible will begin in several months.

At full line speed, Flat Rock employs about 3,000 workers on two shifts with annual capacity of about 220,000.

Over the last year, the factory has been upgraded as part of a $555 million investment. Ford has added a flexible body shop to allow multiple models to be produced on the same line, and installed three-wet paint process, dirt detection and laser brazing.

UAW officials are eager to see a third production shift added at the plant but Joe Hinrichs, head of Ford's Americas unit, said today the automaker won't know until the second half of 2015 whether international demand will support additional Mustang output.

Employees gathered around the first production 2015 Mustang at a ceremony celebrating Job One today. Dallas area Ford dealer Sam Pack earlier bid $300,000 for the first 2015 Mustang and plans to put it in his car museum.

Photo credit: BRADFORD WERNLE

Even with all the design and engineering changes undertaken to appeal to overseas consumers, Ford expects the majority of Mustang sales to come in the United States and North America.

Ford has told U.S. dealers it expects order scheduling of the Mustang coupe to begin in late September and the car to arrive in dealerships in November.

The company has sold more than 9 million Mustangs. It is one of the few nameplates in continuous production for more than 50 years.

Ford has told U.S. dealers it expects order scheduling of the Mustang coupe to begin in late September and the car to arrive in dealerships in November.

U.S. sales of the Mustang rose 4 percent to 50,795 this year through July, after declining 7 percent to 77,186 in 2013.

U.S. deliveries of the Chevrolet Camaro have climbed 13 percent through July to 56,633, after falling 5 percent to 80,567 in 2013. The Camaro, redesigned in 2009, overtook the Mustang a year later, ending Ford’s 24-year run with the top-selling sports car in the U.S.

New Mustang features include an independent rear suspension, a redesigned front suspension and a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. The Mustang also will be offered with the latest version of Ford’s 5.0-liter V-8 engine and a 3.7-liter V-6.

Ford celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Mustang in April. To commemorate the anniversary, each 2015 Mustang will have a badge on the instrument panel incorporating the galloping pony logo and the words “Mustang -- Since 1964.”

Ford recently spent $555 million to upgrade the Flat Rock, Mich., factory where 2015 Mustang output was launched Thursday.

Photo credit: FORD

Ford started producing Mustangs at Flat Rock nine years ago and marked the 1 millionth Mustang built there last year.

David Phillips contributed to this report.

You can reach Bradford Wernle at bwernle@crain.com.


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