Wednesday's announcement at the Chicago Auto Show comes at a time when Ford has cut thousands of jobs and closed plants elsewhere in the world to return to profitability. The new jobs would be in addition to 1,000 created when ground was broken for a 150-acre supplier park near the Torrance Avenue assembly plant, which produced Model T's in 1924.
Declaring 2004 the year of the car, Bill Ford unveiled the new Mercury Montego sedan, which will be built on the same platform as the Ford 500 sedan and the Ford Freestyle crossover utility vehicle.
Ford said a $250 million investment in flexible manufacturing would cut waste and improve efficiency at the Chicago operations, allowing up to seven vehicles to be produced.
"Mass customization will meet customer needs while maintaining mass production," he said.
Ford has long ties to the Windy City. Founder Henry Ford sold his first motor car to a Chicago dentist in 1905 and the automotive pioneer perfected the moving assembly line after visiting the Swift and Co. meatpacking plant on the South Side.
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