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Ford Announces U.S. Plant Expansion to Make EVs and Autonomous Cars

Automaker’s decision marks reversal on plans to build new plant in Mexico

Published: Wednesday, January 4, 2017 - 14:46

(Quality Digest: Chico, CA) – On Jan. 3, 2017, Ford Motor Co. announced plans to invest $700 million to expand its Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan into a factory that will build high-tech autonomous and electric vehicles. The expansion will create 700 direct new jobs. The announcement was welcome news for U.S. workers as it changes Ford’s earlier plans to build a new manufacturing plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

“We are encouraged by the pro-growth policies that president elect Trump and the new congress have indicated they will pursue. We believe that these tax and regulatory reforms are critically important to boost U.S. competitiveness and drive resurgence in American manufacturing and high-tech innovation,” explains Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO. "All of these factors, coupled with segmentation shifts that we’re seeing in the marketplace, and our effort to fully utilize the capacity at existing facilities have prompted us to invest in Flat Rock’s expansion and to cancel building a new plant in Mexico.”

The Flat Rock plant, which first opened in 1986, employs more than 3,000 people and currently produces the Mustang and Continental. The announcement, which was webcast live from the Flat Rock facility, confirmed the company’s dedication to being a world leader in providing autonomous and electric vehicles, and elicited cheers from the Ford employees in attendance.

Fields also revealed Ford’s plan to produce 13 new electric vehicles within the next five years, including two that would be built at the Flat Rock plant, which he referred to as “a new manufacturing innovation center.”

The two vehicles to be produced in Flat Rock are an all-new, fully electric small utility vehicle with an expected range of at least 300 miles, and an autonomous hybrid.

“You might remember that we announced in August that Ford would produce a high-volume, fully autonomous vehicle for commercial ride-sharing or ride-hailing use in 2021, one with no steering wheel, gas, or brake pedal,” said Fields. “Today I’m happy to announce that these first Ford autonomous vehicles will be powered by hybrids, and they will be built right here in Flat Rock, Michigan.”

More cheers ensued.

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For 35 years Quality Digest has been the go-to source for all things quality. Our newsletter, Quality Digest, shares expert commentary and relevant industry resources to assist our readers in their quest for continuous improvement. Our website includes every column and article from the newsletter since May 2009 as well as back issues of Quality Digest magazine to August 1995. We are committed to promoting a view wherein quality is not a niche, but an integral part of every phase of manufacturing and services.