Ford Invests $550M to Build Electric Vehicles at Michigan Plant
Ford Motor Company said May 6 it is investing $550 million to transform its Michigan Assembly Plant into a lean, green, and flexible manufacturing complex that will build Ford's next-generation Focus global small car along with a new battery-electric version of the Focus for the North American market.
The plant, formerly the production site for Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigators SUVs, is one of three North American light-truck plants Ford is retooling to build fuel-efficient global small cars in the coming years. The new Focus will begin rolling off the line next year and the battery-electric version of the Focus-Ford's first all-electric passenger car-debuts in 2011.
As part of the retooling, Ford will consolidate its operations from Wayne Assembly Plant. When production launches in 2010, approximately 3,200 employees will build the new Focus at Michigan Assembly Plant. At the plant, Ford and United Auto Workers (UAW) are developing modern new operating practices to ensure high quality and even greater efficiency.
The reinvention of Michigan Assembly, one of the world's most profitable auto plants during the SUV boom of the late 1990s, is rooted in the fundamental strategic shift by Ford to leverage its global assets to bring six world-class small cars to the American market by the end of 2012. To produce the vehicles, Ford is converting three truck and SUV plants to car plants - Michigan Assembly, Cuautitlan Assembly in Mexico, which begins building the new Fiesta subcompact early next year; and Louisville (Ky.) Assembly, which will be converted to produce small vehicles from Ford's global Focus platform beginning in 2011.
The new Focus is being developed in Europe - where Ford is a leader in small cars - off a new global C-car platform. Over time, the new platform will be the basis for more than 2 million units annually around the world, including Focus and other derivatives, allowing Ford to leverage economies of scale to improve investment efficiency.
The zero-emission Focus battery-electric vehicle, being developed in partnership with Magna International, features a high-voltage electric motor powered by a high capacity lithium ion battery pack and charged by plugging in to a 110-volt or 220-volt outlet. The vehicle is one part of a larger strategy Ford announced in January to develop electric vehicles for North America quickly and affordably by leveraging its global platform capability.
In addition to the Focus battery electric vehicle, Ford is collaborating with Smith Electric to sell a Transit Connect battery electric commercial vehicle for North America in 2010. Ford's product plans also include a next-generation hybrid vehicle in 2012 and a plug-in hybrid vehicle in 2012.