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Ford To Convert Aerostar Plant To Make Explorers

February 1, 1993

HAZELWOOD, Mo. (AP) _ Ford Motor Co. will invest close to $400 million to convert its assembly plant here to produce the Ford Explorer van, the company said Monday.

About 1,400 of the plant’s 2,500 workers were on hand to hear the news from Alex Trotman, president and chief operating officer of the Ford Automotive Group.

The plant produces Ford’s Aerostar minivan, which is scheduled to go out of production at the end of the 1994 model year.

Workers had feared that the end of Aerostar production would also mean the end of their jobs.

The production change will assure jobs for all 2,500 workers now at the plant, Trotman said.

Praising the workers, Trotman said that one important factor in the company’s decision to retool the factory was the possibility of changes in the current contract with Local 235 of the United Auto Workers.

″Over the last 45 years, you have demonstrated that you are adaptable to change, that you are applying the principle of continuous improvement and that you are capable of producing quality products,″ Trotman said.

Ford and the local’s bargaining committee are discussing changes the company says it needs to see in the current contract, if the plant is to get the Explorer.

The Explorer, the fifth best selling vehicle in the United States in 1992, will continue to be built at the Louisville assembly plant in Kentucky.

The St. Louis plant will also build the Explorer to enable Ford to keep up with consumer demand.

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