Fords US$850m investment will target four Michigan plants.

Ford's US$850m investment will target four Michigan plants.

Ford plans to spend US$850m upgrading at least four plants in Michigan and to hire 1,200 additional workers over the next three years if, as expected, the state approves US$400m in tax relief as part of a jobs retention scheme later this week.

"Investing in American manufacturing is a priority for Ford and that is what today is all about," said Mark Fields, Ford President of the Americas, speaking to reporters at the company's Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Detroit.

The investment is aimed at allowing Ford to make a wide range of fuel-efficient cars and trucks which will be fitted with six-speed transmissions, such as the ones to be made at the Van Dyke plant, by 2013.

Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm said the proposed tax breaks were necessary to help the US manufacturing industry recover and further tax breaks aimed at keeping car worker jobs in the state will be announced later this week.

Of the 1,200 jobs Ford plans to create, about 300 will be new engineering positions and of the remaining 900 hourly jobs, some 200 laid-off Ford workers will be offered them first.