US

Ford Investing $900 Million in Michigan Plants, Will Add 900 More Jobs

By Zachary Stieber

Ford will begin producing all-electric cars at a factory in Detroit, the company announced on March 20. The move will add about 900 jobs at the Flat Rock assembly plant south of Detroit over the next four years.

The workers will come as the Michigan-based company adds a second shift at the plant.

Ford also said it will invest approximately $850 million in the plant. Production on the new all-electric vehicle is slated to begin in 2023.

It will also spend roughly $50 million to build an autonomous vehicle manufacturing center near Detroit to add hardware to existing vehicles. The center is slated to start modifying vehicles in 2021.

The Flat Rock plant will produce vehicles from the company’s next-generation battery electric flexible architecture, following the production of an all-electric SUV planned for 2020 from Ford’s Cuautitlan, Mexico, plant.

Ford Mustangs outside of the Flat Rock assembly plant in Flat Rock, Mich., on Aug. 8, 2018. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images)

“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 of global operations, in a statement. “This is good news for the future of southeast Michigan, delivering more good-paying manufacturing jobs.”

“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,” he added.

The company also said that it will build its next-generation van in its plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, consistent with rules outlined in the USMCA trade agreement between the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

The company didn’t disclose details about the next-generation electric vehicles.

Ford official Joe Hinrichs introduces the Ford F-150 Raptor at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich., on Jan. 11, 2016. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Hinrichs told the Detroit Free Press. “It will be a next-generation battery electric vehicle.”

Ford has previously discussed an all-electric F-150 pickup truck with investors.

“One of the reasons we’re announcing today is because we’re starting to talk to suppliers,” Hinrichs added. “So we want to be able to control the message. So we’re going to start notifying suppliers of our plans and they’ll start on their plans.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), was among those applauding the news.

“Ford’s investment in creating hundreds of new jobs reaffirms its confidence in the U.S. workforce. Creating a next-generation electric vehicle shows Ford’s vision for building not only the energy of the future but also the workforce,” Dingell said. “If we want to get to a carbon-less society, electric vehicles are how we get there. Producing electric vehicles at Flat Rock moves us forward.”

United Auto Workers Vice President Rory Gamble also said he supports the move.

“Ford’s $900 million in investments, most of which is in the Flat Rock facility, sets up the downriver Detroit facility to be the center of electric vehicles for years to come,” he said in a statement. “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.”

The Flat Rock plant, which currently produces the Mustang sports car and the Lincoln Continental sedan, is retooling to deal with the new vehicle. Because of slow sales of the Mustang and Continental, it’s scheduled to drop one shift in April, with about 560 workers eligible to transfer to other locations, likely the Livonia Transmission Plant, while about 400 others may not be employed after the shift.

“When we stepped back and looked at our plans for the future with battery-electric vehicles and electrification in general and the commitment to $11 billion in investment, it was very clear to us over the last year or so that we were going to need a second plant,” Hinrichs told Bloomberg.

“It became pretty clear to us that Flat Rock was the right plant to have that capacity. It has a lot of experience building multiple different things.”