The Ford Flat Rock plant in southeastern Michigan will be tasked with building the automaker’s next-generation electric vehicles, while a new assembly site, also in southeastern Michigan, will take care of upfitting pre-built vehicles with autonomous hardware.
In a statement, Ford said it was “expanding its BEV manufacturing footprint to its Flat Rock Assembly plant in southeast Michigan,” and that the plant will “become the production home to vehicles from the company’s next-generation battery electric flexible architecture.” These “next-generation” Ford EVs will arrive after the Mustang-inspired electric performance SUV, which will enter production at the automaker’s Cuautitlan, Mexico plant in 2020.
In addition to the Flat Rock announcement, Ford also said today it will complete construct a new AV upfitting center in southeast Michigan which will work on “purpose-built, commercial-grade” hybrid vehicles, installing the hardware and software necessary to enable self-driving functionality. The plant will also install unique interiors in the vehicles. Ford did not provide any other information on the vehicles that will be built there, but added that production “will begin in 2021 for deployment in commercial services to move people and goods.”
Together, these announcements represent a $900 million investment in southeastern Michigan, Ford says. The automaker will also add “900 incremental direct new jobs through 2023,” between Flat Rock and the new AV assembly site.
“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 Ford Global Operations boss Joe Hinrichs. “This is good news for the future of southeast Michigan, delivering more good-paying manufacturing jobs.”
Hinrichs also said its AV strategy will allow it to “to adjust our investment spending to accommodate the pace of growth of this exciting new technology.”
Ford is expected to pull the wraps off of its first mass production EV, the Mustang-inspired electric crossover (pictured above), either later this year or in early 2020.