In the last several years, Ford has made a $1.1
billion investment and hired 2,000 workers at the plant in
Claycomo, Missouri, where its F-150 pickup trucks are also made.
The plant's total workforce stands at nearly 5,000.
While the automaker has made pre-production models of the
Transit in recent weeks, the official start of production was
Wednesday. Transit vans are also produced at plants in China and
Joe Hinrichs, head of Ford's North American operations, said the
Transit was being introduced to the region in part to save costs
by sharing design and engineering work around the globe.
Introduced in Europe in 1965, the Transit has been the
top-selling commercial van in Britain for 49 years and it is
sold in 118 countries on six continents.
The E-Series was first sold as the Econoline in the United
States in 1961 and has been the best-selling van on the U.S.
market for 35 years.
Hinrichs said the company has been preparing its North American
commercial customers for the last year-and-a-half for the
transition to Transit. The E-Series will be sold alongside the
Transit as the 2015 van is rolled out this year, he said.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; editing by Alden Bentley)
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