Ford plans to hire 7,000 US workers by 2012

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Ford Motor Co. says it will add more than 7,000 workers in the U.S. over the next two years as it begins producing several new vehicles.

The company plans to hire 4,000 manufacturing workers this year. Almost half those workers will be at the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky that will make the new Ford Escape starting late this year. It expects to add at least 2,500 new manufacturing jobs in 2012.

Ford also plans to hire 750 engineers with expertise in batteries and other areas to work on electric vehicles. The company says it is beginning a recruiting effort in Detroit and eight other cities this week.

Ford introduced three future electric and hybrid vehicles Monday at the Detroit auto show, including an electric version of the Ford Focus.