LANSING — Ford Motor Co. is shifting its Livonia Transmission Plant to high gear with a $1.4 billion investment that will create 500 new jobs.
The Dearborn automaker said the plant on Plymouth Road will now build a new 10-speed rear-wheel drive transmission.
The Michigan Strategic Fund in turn has approved an exemption from the State Essential Services Assessment for the automaker valued at $27.3 million over 15 years. The exclusion serves as an incentive for projects that result in significant investment in eligible manufacturing personal property.
Currently at the Livonia transmission plant, Ford workers manufacture six-speed transmissions for a range of Ford products. When refitted and updated, the plant will produce 10-speed rear-wheel drive transmissions that will first go into the F-150 Raptor and certain F-150 models.
The Raptor debuted in 2010, and is considered among the first high-performance off-road pickups. Ford’s F-series has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for 34 years.
Michigan leads the nation with more than 140,000 new automotive manufacturing jobs since 2009, according to the Center for Automotive Research.
In granting the State Essential Services Assessment Exemption, the MSF board considered a range of factors, including out-of-state competition, net positive return to the state, level of private investment, business diversification, reuse of existing facilities, near-term job creation and strong link to Michigan suppliers.
Ford also evaluated existing facilities outside of Michigan for this project.
The Livonia Transmission Plant opened in 1952, and is a main reason Ford is the top employer in Livonia with nearly 2,800 employees.
Two weeks ago, Ford announced a thorough 10-year renovation to its design and product campuses, including modernizing and transforming its Dearborn headquarters, where it plans to relocate as many as 30,000 employees in updated offices complexes.