DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. will drop one shift and 900 workers at the AutoAlliance Mustang plant in Flat Rock, Mich., to increase the plant's efficiency, Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said today.
A majority of the workers being cut will have an opportunity to transfer to a different plant, Evans said. The cuts will take effect in July.
“We'll be talking with employees over the coming months about their opportunities,” she said. “It's too early to give a number on how many will stay.”
The plant, jointly owned with Mazda Motor Corp., also makes the Mazda6 sedan. The Flat Rock factory, which employs nearly 2,300, had a considerable amount of downtime last year, Evans said.
“We will reduce shift, increase line speed and produce more volumes in a much more stable pattern,” she said.
Some of the displaced workers will have at least two plants to which they can transfer, Evans said. Ford recently announced it will add 1,200 workers at its Chicago plant to build the new Ford Explorer SUV.
Ford's Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, Mich., will be bringing in transferred workers to help produce the 2012 Ford Focus.
Workers who are not offered jobs will be offered buyouts under the terms of Ford's contract with the UAW, Evans told Reuters.
The Mustang plant produced 102,000 vehicles in 2009, Evans said. Ford forecasts that the Flat Rock plant will make more vehicles than that this year.
But the prediction comes after Mustang sales fell 27 percent last year, while Mazda6 sales were down 34 percent.
The Mustang's sales have lagged that of its main competitor, the Chevrolet Camaro, for eight straight months. The new Camaro, which debuted in March, finished last year just 4,975 units behind the Mustang's 66,623 sales, even though Ford's muscle car had 12 months of sales.
Last month, the Camaro outsold the Mustang 5,371 to 4,747.
If that pattern continues, the Camaro could end decades of Mustang sales dominance. The Mustang outsold the Camaro every year from 1986 to 2002, when GM discontinued its muscle car for several years.
To help the Mustang compete with the Camaro, Ford is putting a new V-6 engine in its 2011 Mustang. The 3.7-liter engine has one more horsepower and one more highway mile per gallon than the Camaro.
Chrissie Thompson and Reuters contributed to this report