Published: Fri, March 22, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Ford to spend $900M on EV, autonomous vehicle production

Ford to spend $900M on EV, autonomous vehicle production

Ford Motor Company said on Wednesday it is adding production of a fully electric vehicle at a second North American plant as part of its $11 billion investment plan set a year ago.

Ford says it is reshuffling a previously announced investment plan for Southeast Michigan to spend $900 million over the next four years in a move it projects to create 900 jobs.

The Flat Rock plant now builds the Mustang muscle vehicle and the Lincoln Continental luxury auto, which has a murky future because Ford has announced it intends to stop selling all cars in the USA but the Mustang. Workers will take standard production hybrid vehicles and install "unique self-driving technology and unique interiors", suggesting the cars will serve a Ford-owned commercial fleet rather than shipping to the general public.

"As we ramp up AV production, this plan allows us to adjust our investment spending to accommodate the pace of growth of this exciting new technology", Hinrichs said.

Meanwhile, more than 3,000 Ford Explorer owners have warned federal regulators and the company that carbon monoxide gas may be slipping into the cabin, according to a report from Bloomberg News.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-12th District) applauded Ford's announcement, emphasizing its impact on southeast MI and its economy. "If an owner has concerns, they should contact their dealer for inspection", a Ford spokesman said in an emailed statement. That investment figure was up from the previous target of $4.5 billion by 2020.

Teaser of Ford Mustang-inspired electric SUV
Teaser of Ford Mustang-inspired electric SUV

"This new plan combines our core strength in mass manufacturing with the agility and leanness we've shown with our modification centers for specialty manufacturing".

In January, the company said it wanted to have about 40 hybrid and all-electric cars in its model line-up by 2022 - about 16 of which will be fully electric.

"Our batteries will be sourced here in North America", Hinrichs said.

While expanding auto production in the U.S., Ford will continue producing some vehicles in Cuautitlan, Mexico, though the corporation has not announced an expansion of production in Mexico. "Producing electric vehicles at Flat Rock moves us forward". Flat Rock will be dedicated to Ford's future EVs, which will sit on a new, dedicated battery-electric architecture.

Ford also announced it is building its next-generation North American Transit Connect small commercial and passenger van in Mexico, starting in 2021. Ford is involved in a court battle with the government over allegations that it was unfairly skirting the so-called chicken tax - a 25 percent tariff the US has levied on light-truck imports since 1964 - by bringing over Transit Connects that were built as passenger vehicles and then converting them to cargo vans stateside. The company also sees higher gasoline prices and stronger emissions regulations in the future as well as more electric vehicle charging stations.

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