Ford offers Flat Rock plant a fresh start with the 2013 Fusion image

Ford Motor Company and its employees today are opening a new era at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant, which will produce the 2013 Ford Fusion midsize sedan.

Ford announced a new name for the former Mazda assembly plant and an additional 1,200 hourly jobs starting next year.

Previously known as AutoAlliance International, Flat Rock Assembly is now under the full management control of Ford. However, the plant continues to be owned by a joint venture split 50/50 between Ford and Mazda Motor Corporation.

Following the end of Mazda6 production last month, the plant will continue to produce the Mustang before making the 2013 Fusion starting next year. Flat Rock Assembly will be the U.S. producer of Fusion, employing 2,900 workers on both vehicle lines.

In addition to adding 1,200 new hourly jobs needed for the Fusion production, Ford also is investing $555 million to build a state-of-the-art, fully flexible body shop capable of producing multiple vehicles. Ford wants to increase the flexibility of its equipment and facilities to build multiple vehicles at one location, as it aims to produce 25 percent more derivatives per plant by 2015 versus 2011 on a global basis.

The Fusion is part of the fastest-growing segment in the U.S. this year – midsize sedans. The segment totaled 2.1 million vehicles in 2011 and Ford expects it to continue growing.