Ford Motor Co. has big plans for its Flat Rock Assembly Plant. Because of this, the plant is losing a shift for a while, but it will return. Otherwise, Ford would continue to pay 25 percent tariffs for imported vans; like the rest of the auto industry, the company anxious by threats by the Trump administration to instate such a tariff on all imported vehicles. "As we transition to new technology and future products, Flat Rock through this investment, is well positioned to be a world leader for decades to come in auto industry technology and production".
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-12th District) applauded Ford's announcement that the company plans to expand production capacity at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant, including next-generation fully electric vehicles.
Roughly a year-and-a-half after shifting production of a future electric sport utility vehicle to Mexico from Flat Rock, Michigan, Ford says it now plans to build other battery-powered models there and add a second shift of workers by 2023, at a cost of US$850 million.
Despite retooling in Mexico, Ford is adding more jobs to the Flat Rock plant than the 700 jobs Fields had targeted when he announced it would also build autonomous vehicles for ride-hailing and ride-sharing. "This is good news for the future of southeast MI, delivering more good-paying manufacturing jobs".
Ford's plans, which executives said will be executed by 2023, also includes a $50 million investment toward an assembly plant that produces self-driving vehicles in the southeast MI region.
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The company also plans a roughly $50 million autonomous vehicle manufacturing center near Detroit where workers will add the self-driving software to autonomous vehicles that will be built at Flat Rock.
"Ford's establishment of an autonomous vehicle manufacturing center puts southeast MI at the center of the future of mobility", Dingell said.
"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", Mr 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". The facility was originally slated to start manufacturing autonomous commercial vehicles in 2021. Hinrichs said he doesn't expect the move to have any impact on a U.S. Customs case in which Ford has been accused of "tariff engineering".
All of the moves are part of the company's commitment to continuously find ways to boost its global competitiveness.
Ford is shifting production of its Transit Connect compact commercial van from Spain to Hermosillo, Mexico, where it will be built in the same factory now producing the Fusion sedan.