Ford plans to revamp MI plant for 2023 electric auto production

Ford's Argo AI subsidiary has been testing Fusion hybrids equipped with self-driving technology

Ford's Argo AI subsidiary has been testing Fusion hybrids equipped with self-driving technology

Ford has shifted its EV and AV assembly plans several times since January 2017, when it canceled a $1.6 billion small-car plant under construction in Mexico shortly before President Donald Trump took office.

The company has selected its Flat Rock Assembly plant in southeast MI to serve as its second manufacturing facility for all-electric vehicles, requiring more than $850 million and adding around 900 new jobs through 2023.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett is leading an $11 billion overhaul of the automaker, which saw net income fall by more than half a year ago. The automaker did not disclose a location or jobs estimate for its new autonomous vehicle center. In a statement, Ford said the site will upfit purpose-built, commercial-grade hybrid vehicles with self-driving technology and unique interiors. Ford is negotiating an alliance with Germany's Volkswagen AG to work together on electric and autonomous vehicles.

As part of the moves, Ford said production of the next-generation Transit Connect van for North America would shift to Mexico from Valencia, Spain.

Ford Motor Co. announced Wednesday that it will invest $900 million in southeast MI.

The company has been in talks with Germany's Volkswagen about an alliance to invest and built electric and autonomous vehicles.

Ford's high-performance electric SUV will feature Mustang-inspired styling
Ford's high-performance electric SUV will feature Mustang-inspired styling

Production is slated to begin in 2021, with the vehicles being used commercially rather than sold to consumers.

That news was tempered by the fact that about 500 of the displaced Flat Rock workers are expected to transfer to the Livonia Transmission Plant, which builds transmissions for a number of vehicles, including the Ford F-150 and Ford Ranger.

"It wasn't so much about avoiding tariffs", Hinrichs said, "it was about improving the business".

Ford Motor Co. is shifting its previously announced investments in its MI plants that will produce the next-generation of electric cars and autonomous driving vehicles, ultimately driving what the carmaker expects will be hundreds of new jobs. "My district is not only home to Ford's World Headquarters and research and development in Dearborn, but also the Flat Rock plant producing their best, hottest products".

The EV's production move coincides with the next-gen Transit Connect van, now built in Valencia, Spain, that will also move to Mexico and replace the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ assembly line in Hermosillo.

Producing this small van in Ford's Hermosillo, Mexico, assembly plant increases US and Canadian vehicle content consistent with the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which supports USA manufacturing jobs and boosts sourcing of components with North American suppliers. Later that year, it reversed the decision, saying it would focus on AVs in Flat Rock and move production of the battery-electric crossover to Mexico. That includes a plan to invest more than $850 million to expand production capacity at its Flat Rock, Michigan, plant to build EVs. "This renewed investment in our community represents an important opportunity for Downriver families and for the future of our region, and I look forward to seeing the good it will do for our local economy".

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