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said Thursday it plans to build its first transmission plant in China to support the automaker's "aggressive growth plan in the world's largest auto market. "

The plant will have an initial investment of $350 million. It will be funded by Changan Ford Mazda Automobile, Ford's passenger vehicle joint venture in China.

Ford, in a press release Thursday, said the plant will make advanced fuel-efficient 6-speed automatic transmissions and the initial annual capacity will be up to 400,000 units. The transmissions will supply Ford brand vehicles produced and sold locally by Changan Ford Mazda Automobile.

Ford said the plant advances its plan to introduce 15 brand new vehicles to China by 2015.

The plant is expected to start production in the fourth quarter of 2013.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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Joseph Woelfel

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