April 23, 2015 / 8:30 PM / in 2 years

As sales of small cars dip, Ford to lay off about 700 workers at Michigan plant

The Ford logo is pictured at the Ford Motor Co plant in Genk December 17, 2014. In 2012 F REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co said on Thursday it will lay off about 700 workers at a Detroit-area plant making compact and compact hybrid cars, responding to a dip in demand for such vehicles amid lower gasoline prices.

Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan is cutting a shift and will run on two shifts beginning June 22, said Ford spokeswoman Kristina Adamski.

The plant makes three versions of the Ford Focus compact car and the C-Max compact hybrid and C-Max plug-in hybrid car. Sales of hybrid and gasoline-powered small cars have taken a hit in recent months as tumbling crude oil prices sent gasoline prices lower.

Focus U.S. sales in March were down 14.5 percent and for the first three months of the year sales of about 53,000 units were up only 2 percent compared with last year’s first quarter. C-Max U.S. sales of about 4,300 through March were down 23 percent from last year’s first quarter.

Ford said it would offer summer replacement jobs to some of the Michigan Assembly workers and work to find all of them full-time employment at the company’s plants. Ford said it has “high confidence” it can find new jobs for all laid off workers within a year.

The layoffs will affect 675 hourly and 25 salaried workers. The hourly workers are represented by the United Auto Workers union and are paid the so-called “second-tier” wage that is less than longtime hourly workers.

Second-tier workers make between $15.78 to $19.28 per hour, while veteran Ford workers make $28.50 per hour.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Frances Kerry

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