(BN) Ford to Hire 7,000 to Help Make Electric, Hybrid Cars (Update4)


Ford to Hire 7,000 to Help Make Electric, Hybrid Cars (Update4)
2011-01-10 22:03:08.360 GMT

(Updates with union president's comment in the ninth
paragraph. For more Detroit auto show coverage, see SHOW <GO>.)

By Keith Naughton
Jan. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co., revealing three new
electric or hybrid vehicles to the public today, plans to hire
more than 7,000 workers in the next two years, including
engineers with expertise in battery-powered cars.
Ford will hire 4,000 factory workers and 750 engineers this
year and add 2,500 hourly workers next year, Mark Fields, Ford's
president of the Americas, said today at the North American
International Auto Show in Detroit.
Ford plans to recruit engineers at the show, where the
company is debuting the Focus Electric car, the C-Max Energi
plug-in hybrid and the C-Max Hybrid gasoline-electric wagon
today. The automaker has said electric and hybrid vehicles may
account for as much as 25 percent of its sales by 2020.
We'll "show growth not only in our employment numbers but
also in our new product offerings," Fields said today.
The hiring will happen as Ford negotiates a new contract
with the United Auto Workers union. The current four-year pact
for Ford's 41,000 U.S. hourly workers expires in September. UAW
President Bob King said last week he expects workers to be
rewarded for the concessions they gave in the past five years.
"Our negotiations with the UAW are ongoing and the whole
discussion is going to be about how we can continue to improve
our competitiveness," Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally told
reporters today. "We're right at the inflection point now with
the economy coming back."

Second-Tier Wage

Ford will pay the new workers it hires this year about $14
an hour, half the wages veteran factory employees receive,
Mulally said. That so-called "second-tier wage" is key to
keeping Ford cost competitive with rivals, he said.
"It's very important," Mulally said, adding that it helps
position Ford to be "competitive with the best in the world."
King declined to say if what he called "the entry level
wage" would be included in the next contract.
"That's all issues we'll talk about during negotiations,"
King said in a brief interview as he toured the auto show with
General Motors Co. CEO Dan Akerson and a congressional
delegation. King added that the Ford hires are "very, very good
Lower starting wages and other concessions the UAW granted,
such as forgoing raises, have enabled the U.S. automakers to
reverse a $2,000 per vehicle cost disadvantage they had against
the U.S. operations of Toyota Motor Corp. and other Asian
automakers, said David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for
Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
"These companies have switched from a $2,000 per car cost
penalty to a $2,000 per car advantage," Cole said. "Now
they're making money at these depressed sales levels. Just
imagine what will happen when sales come back."

Electric Models

Automakers are developing models powered all or in part by
electricity to meet standards such as the U.S. rules for average
fuel economy by company of 35.5 mpg in 2016, up from 25 mpg now.
Demand for hybrids has waned. The models that run on
batteries and gasoline engines peaked at 3.3 percent of the U.S.
market in 2008, when gasoline topped $4 a gallon. With fuel
prices down about 25 percent from their peak, hybrids accounted
for 2.4 percent of U.S. auto sales last year, according to
researcher Autodata Corp. of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
Hybrids accounted for 1.8 percent of Ford's U.S. sales last
year, even though its Fusion is the most fuel-efficient midsize
Ford rose 4 cents to $18.31 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock
Exchange composite trading. The shares gained 68 percent in
Ford said it will set up a booth during the show's industry
days on Jan. 12 and Jan. 13 to recruit engineers with electric-
vehicle expertise.

For Related News and Information:
Ford and alternative energy: F US <Equity> TCNI ALTNRG <GO>
Auto-sales statistics: ATSL <GO>
Autos and regulation: TNI AUT RULES <GO>
Auto-show stories: TNI AUT SHOW <GO>

--Editors: Kevin Orland, Jamie Butters.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Keith Naughton in Detroit at +1-248-827-2941 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Jamie Butters at +1-248-827-2944 or jbuters@bloomberg.net