J.L. French Automotive Castings will invest $18 million to upgrade its Sheboygan operation, which manufactures aluminum die-cast auto parts. The investment, which will provide a new production line and lead to additional jobs, was made to meet new contracts with Ford. J.L. French will begin producing the automaker’s six-speed front-wheel-drive transmission cases and related converter housings.

Production of the parts is scheduled to start in June and expected to total 700,000 units per year by 2013. The transmission cases produced by J.L. French will represent approximately 30% of all Ford transmissions. After struggling through the economic downturn, J.L. French is close to an all-time high in employees.