STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. - The launch of the Dry Clutch RDU (Rear Drive Unit) at Sterling Axle Plant solidifies the plant’s presence in Ford’s future vehicle portfolio. On Thursday, Jan. 26, Sterling Axle Plant held a Job #1 ceremony where employees celebrated the launch with Jim Tetreault, vice president, North America Manufacturing.
“Today is a great day for Sterling. We’re celebrating our Job #1 for RDU – the product that is the future of this plant. Gaining this work is a direct result of the hard work and dedication of the employees here,” said Plant Manager Nick Broggi.
Prior to the production of the RDU, Sterling primarily supplied product for the company's truck business. The addition of this product is instrumental in securing the plant’s future as part of the small car business as well.
The Dry Clutch RDU is designed for transfer of driveshaft rotation to the rear half shafts/wheels on Front-Wheel Drive based All-Wheel Drive vehicles, such as the all-new 2013 Ford Escape, 2013 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, 2013 Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT, 2013 Ford Mondeo, 2013.5 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX and the Ford Kuga for China and Europe.
Ford has invested $127 million at Sterling beginning in 2010 to support new model programs, including the launch of the brand new RDU and to support the increase in Ford F-150 demand, which Sterling also supplies. It is estimated that these two projects will add 230 jobs at the facility. By 2013, Ford will have invested a total of $310 million in the plant.
“We are appreciative for the faith that the company has in the Sterling Plant – and we will deliver,” said Plant Chairman Neil Wallyn.
“This plant is going to export this outstanding product all around the world,” said Tetreault. By 2015, the Dry Clutch RDU will be shipped to eight vehicle assembly plants, seven countries and four continents.
The new RDU line “is lighter, it’s smaller, it has better attributes for noise, better attributes for vibration and better attributes for harshness than what we can buy from outside the company. And it’s a lot less expensive,” said Bill Ickes, RDU chief engineer.
“Our goal is to make the Sterling Plant a competitive advantage for Ford Motor Company,” said Tetreault.
“With the Dry Clutch RDU, Ford Motor Company will Go Further in Quality, Cost, Morale and Customer Satisfaction,” says Obong Umana, Sterling launch manager. “On behalf of the Ford Sterling Plant launch leadership team, I congratulate the Dry Clutch RDU team for successfully achieving the Job #1 milestone – a job well done.”