Ford Motor Co. said Thursday that it's adding 1,200 workers and another shift to a Missouri plant that makes its new Transit van.
The Transit arrived at dealerships in June, but so far only 2,085 have been sold through August, according to Autodata Corp. However, demand has been gradually increasing, and Ford expects it to continue to rise through the year. The automaker said it signed its first large fleet deal last month when cable television company Charter Communications ordered more than 800 of the vans.
Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, touted the van as a "game-changer" in a news release.
The 1,200 workers already have been hired and are expected to start work in late November at the plant just outside Kansas City in Claycomo. The second shift of Transit workers will bring the number of hourly workers at the plant to more than 6,000. The plant also has three crews making the F-150 pickup truck.
Once the new shift is on duty, the Claycomo facility will be making more vehicles per year than any other Ford plant in the world, spokeswoman Kristina Adamski said. The plant, which underwent a massive expansion in 2011 after receiving a state incentive package, will have the capacity to make 500,000 vehicles, also the highest number in the company, she said.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who backed the automotive incentives, said in a written statement that the announcement "further cements Missouri's position as a leader in next-generation automotive manufacturing."
With the latest hires, Ford has added more than 14,000 jobs since 2011, allowing it to exceed a job-creation commitment to the United Auto Workers, the company said. Hinrichs said the job growth is a "testament" to its partnership with the union.