Ford Motor Company is working on a new, larger office space in Palo Alto, California, as the company prepares to double the size of its staff in the tech capital to about 300 employees.
Ford first announced the expansion of its Silicon Valley footprint back in August, 2016, at the same time the automaker first broke the news that it intended to put a fully-autonomous car on the road in 2021.
Ford’s expanded Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto will be five times the size of its current one: 180,000-square-feet versus 30,000. The Detroit News reports that the new office space will have as its neighbor instant-messaging service Skype. Ford sees Silicon Valley as an important location as it will allow the automaker “to be part of the [tech] ecosystem there,” CEO Mark Fields told Business Insider earlier this year.
“This new research center shows Ford’s commitment to be part of the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem — anticipating customers’ wants and needs, especially on connectivity, mobility and autonomous vehicles,” he says. “We are working to make these new technologies accessible to everyone, not just luxury customers.”
Ford CTO Raj Nair expressed a similar sentiment in 2015, according to The Detroit News, saying that the automaker’s Palo Alto team would “build on existing relationships with universities and technology companies, and forge new ones to help us create and apply the appropriate technology working together.”
The new Research and Innovation Center expansion will “contain additional facilities for the research center, design studios, engineering labs, software engineering stations and an auditorium,” according to Ford spokesperson Colin Smith. He says that Ford will “at least double” the size of its Silicon Valley workforce by the end of this year.