Ford Motor Company says it will shift future production of a forthcoming electric vehicle to Mexico instead of building it at the Flat Rock Assembly plant in Michigan as it had planned. The shift is intended to free up some capacity at Flat Rock to enable Ford to build its first fully-autonomous vehicle there.
As of last year, Ford had intended to build the autonomous vehicle at its planned small-car plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, but that facility was canceled in January. The automaker then made plans to build autonomous and electric vehicles at Flat Rock Assembly alongside the Ford Mustang and Lincoln Continental. It now seems as though the electric portion of that product onslaught will end up in Mexico all the same, at the automaker’s existing Cuautitlan plant.
That plant isn’t expected to add any jobs as a result of the production shift in 2020; it produces the unpopular Ford Fiesta subcompact, giving it excess capacity already.
Ford says it will be investing $900 million into Flat Rock, adding 850 jobs, as it makes the facility a hub for autonomous vehicle development and production. That’s compared to a $700-million investment and 700 additional jobs that had been planned before. The automaker’s first autonomous vehicle will be a gas-electric hybrid capable of operating for 20 hours a day.
“You’re starting to see the foundation of Ford’s bet on [autonomous vehicles],” says Ford President of Global Markets Jim Farley. “We’re very excited about what we are doing.”