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Ford Shifts Plans, Will Make Electric Vehicles In Flat Rock, Begin Autonomous Production In 2021

Ford Shifts Plans, Will Make Electric Vehicles In Flat Rock, Begin Autonomous Production In 2021

With demand growing for electric cars, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) said Wednesday it will build its next-generation battery-electric vehicles at its Flat Rock Assembly plant near Detroit, instead of self-driving cars, which Ford said it will build at a separate Michigan facility instead.

Manufacturing Reshuffle 

Ford previously announced it was investing more than $800 million in Flat Rock through 2023 — including the addition of a second shift at the plant — to build the company’s new Mustang along with autonomous cars.

But the autonomous car production now will be done at a yet-to-be-named “new AV manufacturing center in southeast Michigan,” the company said in a Wednesday press release. 

Mustang production will continue at Flat Rock.

Autonomous Manufacturing In 2021 

Ford is building its new 2020 all-electric SUV at a factory in Cuautitlan, Mexico and will continue to do so, but said the demand for non-gasoline powered cars has grown to the point that it makes sense to have a second facility that can make electrics.

“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,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations, said in Ford's statement. “This is good news for the future of southeast Michigan, delivering more good-paying manufacturing jobs.”

Production of Ford’s first autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles will begin in 2021 at the “AV manufacturing center” the company said it will have in southeast Michigan. The first AVs are envisioned as commercial vehicles, such as autonomous delivery vans.

“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.”

What's Next 

Ford said only that the planned investment at Flat Rock includes plans for building the next-generation Mustang there, along with new electric vehicles.

Others have noted that the company has previously mentioned plans for a “Mustang-inspired” all-electric SUV.

Ford also announced Wednesday that will build its newest North America Transit Connect small commercial and passenger vans starting in 2021 at a plant in Hermosillo, Mexico.

Price Action

Ford stock was down 1.44 percent at $8.58 at the time of publication Wednesday. 

Editor's note: This story was updated after a Ford spokeswoman told Benzinga Thursday that the automaker will not be building a new plant to manufacture autonomous vehicles in Michigan. 

Related Links:

Ford's Outlook May Be Too Optimistic, Analysts Say After Q4 Print

Fiat Chrysler To Expand In Michigan, Build New Detroit Plant For Jeep, Ram, Hybrids

Photo courtesy of Ford. 


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