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Ford kicked off production of the GT350R at its Flat Rock, MI, factory Thursday, signaling the next stage in the track star's slow march toward dealers.

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Today's the day, Ford fans. Production has officially commenced on the sixth-generation 2015 Mustang at the company's Flat Rock, MI factory. As production ramps up, sales should kick off in the coming months.

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With the 2014 Mazda6 being built in Japan, Ford is filling the production capacity at its Flat Rock Assembly plant (previously known as AutoAlliance International) with the 2013 Ford Fusion. The new Fusion goes on sale this fall, and while early versions of the car will continue to be made in Hermosillo, Mexico, production will switch to the Flat Rock, Mich. plant early next year.

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Once the current Mazda6 reaches the end of its life cycle, Mazda will begin production on the next-generation car. The automaker won't be building the midsize sedan in the U.S. anymore. Currently, the Mazda6 is built in Flat Rock, Michigan, at the AutoAlliance International assembly facility that the Japanese automaker shares with Ford. The Blue Oval brand churns out the Mustang in Flat Rock, and with Mazda moving on, there could be trouble ahead for the pony car.

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Even though sales of its Mustang have been solid and even improving as of late, the powers that be have reportedly decided to eliminate the second shift at the Auto Alliance International (AAI) factory that assembles the Blue Oval's pony as well as the slow-selling Mazda6. The factory in Flat Rock, MI which is jointly owned by Ford and Mazda had originally planned to lay off 900 employees, but Ford has now opted to reassign the workers to other facilities.

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The desire to make more of the Ford Mustang and Mazda6, while improving efficiency and quality, is leading Ford to cut, not add jobs at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant. The plant's 2,280-strong workforce is expected to decrease by 900, with Ford reducing the number of shifts from two to one and increasing the line speed by 35 percent.

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