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Ford to close east side steering component plant

January 11, 2007
Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it was unable to find a buyer for its east-side Indianapolis steering-systems plant and thus will close it by the end of next year, The Associated Press reported. The plant employs more than 1,500 workers.

Ford spokeswoman Della DePietro told AP the plant was too large to attract buyers.

The automaker in September said the plant, on English Avenue, was among 35 it would close or sell by the end of 2008.

The plant is part of
Ford's Automotive Components Holdings LLC unit, which includes 23 troubled plants that used to be part of Visteon Corp., a Ford spin-off. Ford took back the plants from Visteon in 2005 after Visteon slipped into bankruptcy.

Last fall, Dennis Virag, president of Automotive Consulting Group Inc. in Ann Arbor, Mich., told IBJ that the local plant had difficulties that would make it an unlikely candidate for sale.

For starters, he said, it would need to improve its management, and employees would have to take further wage cuts. Also, he said, Ford has not invested enough in the plant or its equipment.

"The probability of a sale is fairly low, aside from putting a bargain basement price on it," Virag said at the time. "The former Visteon plants are not a good business today. But if a company can buy it right, and manage it right, it could be a viable business."

Among companies that have considered buying Automotive Components assets was the Chinese auto parts maker Wanxiang.

It was not immediately clear whether Ford planned to close any of the other facilities.
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