Automaker shines a light on AV and next-gen Transit Connect production plans.
Ford's electric vehicle manufacturing intentions have become a bit more clear. In a press release covering a range of plans and investments, we've learned its battery-powered, Mustang-inspired SUV crossover will be built in Cuautitlan, Mexico. It should arrive in showrooms by the end of 2020: in time to challenge the Tesla Model Y.
Electric vehicles based on what it refers to as a "next-generation battery electric flexible architecture" — thought to be the VW MEB platform — will be built at its Flat Rock, Michigan plant. A timeline has yet to be given for these vehicles, but some of a planned $850 million will be invested into the facility "through 2023."
All of that money won't go toward the new EVs, however. Some unknown portion of it, likely a substantial amount, will go toward the next-generation Mustang and the addition of a second shift at the Flat Rock factory. Overall, it expects to add 900 jobs to its southeast Michigan manufacturing operations.
Some of those new workers will clock in at the automaker's Autonomous Vehicle center. Here, hybrid vehicles will be gifted with some amount of self-driving technology and "unique interiors." Upon completion, those will then enter ride-hailing and commercial delivery services. The Blue Oval has been developing its AV technology in Miami where it has been bringing customers tacos and pizza, among other things.
The automaker's latest press blast also features other Mexico manufacturing news. Apparently, it will build its next-generation Transit Connect south of the border in Hermosillo, Mexico sometime in 2021. It is eager to emphasize, however, that the move will help it use more parts and pieces sourced from the United States and Canada, creating more jobs at home. Previously, the small van had only been produced in Turkey and Spain.
FORD ADDS 2ND NORTH AMERICAN SITE TO BUILD BATTERY ELECTRICS; MICHIGAN WORKERS TO MAKE ITS FIRST AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES
Ford is investing approximately $900 million in its southeast Michigan manufacturing footprint and targeting 900 incremental direct new jobs through 2023
This includes the company’s plan to expand production capacity at Flat Rock (Mich.) Assembly Plant – including next-generation fully electric vehicles – targeting to invest more than $850 million through 2023 and adding a second shift
Southeast Michigan workers also will make Ford’s first autonomous vehicles starting in 2021; Ford also is investing in an Autonomous Vehicle center where employees will install the vehicles’ unique self-driving technology and unique interiors
Ford also is building its next-generation North American Transit Connect in North America in 2021, boosting program profits and regional content – in line with the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)
DEARBORN, Mich., March 20, 2019 – Ford today announced it is expanding its production capacity for the company’s next-generation battery electric vehicles at a second North American plant.
Tied to the company’s $11.1 billion investment in global electric vehicles, Ford is expanding its BEV manufacturing footprint to its Flat Rock Assembly plant in southeast Michigan. The plant will become the production home to vehicles from the company’s next-generation battery electric flexible architecture. These vehicles will follow the all-electric performance SUV coming in 2020 from Ford’s Cuautitlan, Mexico, plant.
“We’ve taken a fresh look at the growth rates of electrified vehicles and know we need to protect additional production capacity given our accelerated plans for fully electric vehicles,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president, Global Operations. “This is good news for the future of southeast Michigan, delivering more good-paying manufacturing jobs.”
Through this new plan, Ford is targeting to invest more than $850 million in the Flat Rock Assembly Plant through 2023, adding a second shift. The plant investment also includes funding to build the next-generation Mustang and is part of a $900 million investment in Ford’s operations in southeastern Michigan.
The company also announced it will complete Ford’s first autonomous vehicles at a new AV manufacturing center in southeast Michigan, upfitting purpose-built, commercial-grade hybrid vehicles with self-driving technology and unique interiors. Production of Ford’s first autonomous vehicles will begin in 2021 for deployment in commercial services to move people and goods.
“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. “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.”
Ford also announced today it is building its next-generation North American Transit Connect small commercial and passenger van in Mexico, starting in 2021.
Producing this small van in Ford’s Hermosillo, Mexico, assembly plant increases U.S. and Canadian vehicle content consistent with the proposed USMCA trade agreement, which supports U.S. manufacturing jobs and boosts sourcing of components with North American suppliers. It also helps the company improve the profitability of its North American Transit Connect lineup, which is part of Ford’s industry-leading lineup of commercial vehicles and vans.
All of the moves are part of the company’s commitment to continuously find ways to boost its global competitiveness. This builds on Ford’s recent announcements to exit the heavy truck business in Brazil, restructure its operations in Europe and improve results in China.
“We continue driving to find new and better ways to boost our fitness as a company and one of the world’s leading manufacturers,” Hinrichs said. “Working together with our employees, union partners and government officials around the world, we are continuing to unlock new solutions to deliver world-class vehicles people want and value even more efficiently.”