Ford Motor Co. announced Thursday that it will be adding 1,200 jobs to its Kansas plant by the end of the year. This will also mean adding a second shift, making the plant in Missouri the largest for the company in terms of volume worldwide.

This announcement comes as Ford is experiencing a strong demand for the Transit commercial van, the E-Series replacement that started production in April. The van went on sale in June and initially had lukewarm performance but demand has since picked up. More than 2,000 units have been sold by August and Ford believes sales will stay strong, thus the decision to add jobs.

The company invested $1.1 billion in the Kansas plant in 2011 and this will cover costs for Ford's plan to boost its workforce in Missouri. Other expansion projects for the Kansas plant include the addition of a 78,000-square-foot paint shop and a 437,000-square-foot stamping facility.

Once the Kansas plant is in full production, it is expected to churn out around 500,000 vehicles every year, edging out the Valencia plant in Spain which can produce 465,000 vehicles annually.

Ford brought the Transit to North America partly as a way to save on costs as it shared engineering and design work around the world. The commercial van was first introduced in 1965 in Europe, selling in 118 countries and becoming Britain's top-selling commercial van for 49 years.

The E-Series, on the other hand, was sold first in the United States as the Econoline in 1961. It was the best-selling van on the American market for 35 years and will be available until late 2014 alongside the Transit.

By adding jobs at its Kansas plant, Ford is also fulfilling its end of a labor deal struck with the United Auto Workers union which called for at least 12,000 hourly workers by 2015. The company had already added 2,800 jobs in 2012 and 2013. With the inclusion of the 1,200 to be all hired by the end of the year, this brings Ford's hourly employees to over 14,000, well over the 12,000 required by the AUW.

Aside from the Transit, Ford's Kansas plant also builds the F-150. The new 2015 F-150 will also start production this year so the additional hands and shift will come in handy. However, Ford's new truck will first be produced at the company's Dearborn plant in Michigan before making its way to other factories. The Transit and the F-150 are manufactured in different parts of the plants so their production does not interfere with each other.

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