Ford of Europe is currently in talks with an undisclosed European company regarding the sale of one of its factories in France. The French government is eager to ensure a positive solution for the factory's 1,600 workers, and Ford of Europe's CEO John Fleming has assured that the mysterious European company has long-term investment plans for the plant, and that a large number of jobs will be protected.

The factory in question, located in the southwest of France near Bordeaux, currently produces five-speed automatic transmissions for Ford vehicles. These transmissions find their way into cars produced in Ford's American domestic market, as well as in overseas markets such as Australia and Thailand.

The European company in negotiations with Ford will continue to produce automatic transmissions if the deal goes through, although whether or not any jobs will be lost as a result of the changes remains uncertain. The negotiations are expected to be completed by the second-quarter of 2009, and Ford will end production at the plant in mid-2011, reports Automotive News.

Ford is selling the plant due to high export costs, and an upgrading of transmissions for many of its vehicles. Currently, the five-speed automatics built at the plant are used in a number of Ford models, including the Mustang, but a switch to six-speed transmissions is making the plant obsolete.

In this way Ford of Europe's actions are not motivated by a lack of liquid cash, and earlier this month we reported that despite the global automotive slump affecting the world, Ford of Europe actually made a profit in the third-quarter, and expects to remain profitable in 2009.