Ford repackages investment, boosts new jobs by 50

Darnell Taylor
March 22, 2019

Ford Motor plans to allocate approximately $900 million to build electric and self-driving vehicles in MI.

The remaining $50 million will also be used to build Ford's first plant for self-driving vehicles, where production will begin in 2021 - putting the carmaker behind rivals like General Motors in the rush to develop autonomous driving technology. Because of slow sales of the Mustang and Continental, it's scheduled to drop one shift in April, with about 560 workers eligible to transfer to other locations, likely the Livonia Transmission Plant, while about 400 others may not be employed after the shift.

"It's a better plan for how we allocate capital in a more efficient way", Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of global operations, told Automotive News.

Workers in Flat Rock, Michigan will still be allocated additional production, Ford guarantees. "It has a lot of experience building multiple different things".

Ford stock was down 1.44 percent at $8.58 at the time of publication Wednesday. The stock is up about 12% this year. The investment is part of an $11.1 billion package Ford is spending to electrify its lineup worldwide. Ford's restructuring will involve cutting thousands of salaried jobs and closing factories in unprofitable overseas operations. Ford officials said the company will stop importing the Transit Connect small van from Turkey in 2021 and begin building it in Mexico - something they credit to Trump's NAFTA-replacing United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The timing of the announcement was due to requirements that parts suppliers be notified of manufacturing plans, Hinrichs said.

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 MI.

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"We're just proud of our presence here in the U.S.", Hinrichs said.

Ford's Argo AI subsidiary has been testing Fusion hybrids equipped with self-driving technology.

The company intends to add a second shift at Flat Rock to build an electric vehicle, which Hinrichs would not detail. As Trump was taking office in January 2017, then-CEO Mark Fields announced the factory would build both self-driving cars and the electric SUV. The number-two USA automaker said it is investing about $900 million in southeast MI and creating 900 jobs through 2023 as part of its electric-vehicle push.

Through 2023, Ford will invest more than 850 million US dollars in its Flat Rock assembly plant in MI state to produce the next generation EV. Ford eventually announced plans to abandon most of its auto lineup to focus on SUVs and crossovers.

"It became pretty clear to us that Flat Rock was the right plant to have that capacity".

This new plant will be for vehicles from the company's next-generation battery electric flexible architecture.

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