Ford on Monday said it had completed the sale to Cooper-Standard Automotive for Automotive Components Holdings’ (ACH) El Jarudo plant and its fuel rail manufacturing operations in Juarez, Mexico.

Cooper-Standard Automotive is a privately-held global supplier with $US2.2bn in annual sales in body sealing systems, fluid handling systems, and NVH control systems .

“This sale represents more progress as our North American Way Forward plan moves into high gear,” said Mark Fields, president of The Americas and Ford executive vice president. “This is another positive sign of progress toward our commitment to sell selected operations by the end of 2008.”

Under the sales agreement, ACH, a Ford-managed temporary company, transferred ownership of its equity interest in Manufactura El Jarudo, along with related US assets to Cooper-Standard on 1 April. El Jarudo, a maquiladora plant, employs about 450 hourly and salaried employees.

“This sale validates our ACH strategy and provides a solid foundation for success at this plant in the future,” said Al Ver, ACH CEO and COO and Ford vice president. “This first sale sets the stage for more sales of our other plants and businesses.”

Since its formation in October 2005, and subsequent transfer of former Ford factories owned by Visteon back to ACH, the unit has focused on improving its engineering, capital and management skills to improve the various businesses it acquired.

“The efforts have resulted in significant quality and delivery improvements, positioning these businesses among Ford’s best suppliers,” Ford claimed in a statement, without elaborating.

“ACH remains focused on improving and marketing its remaining powertrain, chassis, interior, exterior and glass operations for sale,” the statement added.

ACH is a $4bn supplier with 12 remaining plants in the US and Mexico employing 11,000 leased from Visteon or Ford plus 900 at its Mexican affiliates.