FLAT ROCK, MI — (WWJ) The “pony car” competition is about to heat up, as Ford is now officially producing the all-new 2015 Mustang.

The ceremonial first Mustang, a beautiful, red coupe, was driven off the line Thursday morning, by President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs, with UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles in the passenger seat.

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“Mustang is more than just a car,” said Hinrichs. “It’s a symbol of freedom and optimism in America.”

Ford has built more than nine million Mustang’s over the vehicle’s fifty year history, the last million of them at the Flat Rock Plant.

“I think we build the best car that money can buy,” said Walter Bilot, who’s worked for Ford for 27 years.

The Flat Rock Plant was once a joint venture between Ford and Mazda. It took extensive negotiations between Ford and the UAW to keep the facility open, after Mazda pulled out.

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“Four years ago it was scheduled to close,” said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles. “Now it’s open, and busting at the seams. We have hired over two thousand new employees.”

Flat Rock Assembly now builds the Mustang and the Ford Fusion on two shifts. For many of the new employees, this is was the first launch ceremony.

“I’ve never been part of something that’s been this big before and that’s had such a history to it,” said George Bollinger, who was hired a year ago. “Having knowledge that I’m going to be part of creating something this historic is kind of exciting.”

The 2015 Mustang will be in dealers in the fall. It will be sold in 120 countries, including–for the first time–those in Europe.

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“During the champions league final, in Europe, of soccer, they offered up the allocation for sale,” said Ford’s Joe Hinrichs. “They sold out in about an hour. That tells you the kind of demand that we’re seeing by customers.”