Ford to invest $350 million in Livonia transmission plant in Michigan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co F.N said Friday it would invest $350 million to upgrade its Livonia transmission plant in Michigan as the company expands its lineup of powertrains.

FILE PHOTO: People walk by the Ford display during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The investment is part of the company’s previously disclosed commitment to invest $9 billion and create or retain 8,500 hourly jobs in its U.S. facilities in the next few years.

Last year, the No. 2 U.S. automaker announced it was investing a separate $1.4 billion in the Livonia transmission plant near Detroit. The company said Friday employment at the Livonia plant has risen from about 1,550 last year to 1,800. The company did not say how many additional jobs it will add.

The automaker announced earlier this week it was cutting 1,400 salaried jobs in North America and Asia as it looks to boost its sagging stock price. The company plans to cut $3 billion in costs.

But Ford said it is not cutting its hourly workforce or production. Automakers have been under pressure from President Donald Trump to add jobs or build U.S. new plants.

Ford has invested $12 billion in its U.S. plants and created nearly 28,000 U.S. jobs during the last five years.

The company continues to churn out strong profits, reporting a record $10.4 billion in pretax earnings in 2016, and expects to earn around $9 billion this year.

But it is under pressure to boost its stock price. Ford shares are down nearly 40 percent since Mark Fields took over as chief executive officer in July 2014 and closed at a nearly four-and-half-year low earlier this week.

Ford shares rose 1 percent in trading Friday.

The automaker is offering financial incentives, including generous early retirement offers, to encourage salaried employees to depart voluntarily by the end of September. Investors are worried about slowing sales and an industry that could be dominated by autonomous vehicles and car sharing in the future.

Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Alistair Bell