Ford's Halewood transmission plant will soon double the number of transmissions built for the Transit van, thanks to a new £8 million investment.

Ford and Getrag Ford Transmissions, joint owners of the Merseyside plant, have said that, by mid-2007 they will produce 130,000 units of the MT82 six-speed gearbox rear-wheel-drive Ford vehicles.

Production is already rising steeply and is scheduled to reach 65,000 units a year by the middle of 2006.

In September the transmission plant was named 'best engineering plant in Britain' by Cranfield University and Works Management magazine. The plant employs 730 people turning out 500,000 transmissions a year.

Its other products are fitted to Transit, Fiesta and Fusion models.

Halewood Transmission has been part of the 50/50 Getrag Ford joint venture since 2001.