Bordeaux, France – Ford Motor Company will sell its automatic transmission plant near Bordeaux, France, which it has owned since 1972. It will continue to own and operate its Getrag-Ford joint venture manual transmission plant, also in Bordeaux.

The buyer, HZ Holding France SAS, already owns and operates a successful steel forging operation near Metz, and under the plan will make no changes in the plant’s employment levels. The sale could be completed by the end of April.

HZ Holding said it will invest over €200 million between now and 2013 on six new projects at the plant, including one in renewable energy that will include manufacturing bearings for wind turbines. Project partners will include German automotive supplier Johann Hay Automobiltechnik.

The Bordeaux plant will supply automatic transmissions to Ford until 2011. Ford will also work closely with HZ Holding to identify new automotive industry customers for the plant’s output of automatic transmissions. The automaker said that the significant downturn in its main North American market, plus technological advances in automatic transmissions, did not make it viable to continue making the units in France.

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