DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. will revive partial matching on 401(k) accounts starting July 1 to 45,000 of its U.S. salaried employees and will pay bonuses to 6,200 middle and upper managers worldwide.

Ford President Nick Scheele says the matching program is being reinstated permanently, now that the auto maker is in a better financial position and looking positively at the long term.

“We said we would reinstate it as soon as we saw the financial outlook capable of supporting it,” he tells reporters after a Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress speech here.

Ford’s plan reportedly offers employees 60 cents on the dollar, up to 5% of base pay.

Ford, which dropped 401(k) matching in the wake of its massive 2002 restructuring push, joins DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group in reinstating matching programs. DC said in September it would resume contributions to 15,000 Chrysler employees April 1, reportedly matching 50 cents on the dollar, up to 6% of pay.

General Motors Corp.’s matching plan never went on hiatus.

In an e-mail to employees Mar. 11, Ford Chairman Bill Ford thanked employees for helping resuscitate the company to health over the past two years.

“Two years ago, we began a long-term effort to renew the competitiveness and profitability of our company,” the email says. “Thanks to your efforts we made solid progress and began moving in the right direction in 2002. That progress continued last year.”

The email hits employee in-boxes one day before Ford pays previously promised bonuses to lower level managers and non-management salaried employees in the U.S. and Canada.

jstoll@primediabusiness.com