In a dramatic sign of the profound transformation under way in the auto industry, Ford said today it will invest $550 million to retool its Wayne, Mich. assembly plant to produce fuel-efficient compact cars and electric-drive vehicles. The plant formerly made Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigators SUVs.
“We’re changing from a company focused mainly on trucks and SUVs to a company with a balanced product lineup that includes even more high-quality, fuel-efficient small cars, hybrids and all-electric vehicles,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas. “As customers move to more fuel-efficient vehicles, we’ll be there with more of the products they really want.”
The cornerstone of Ford’s strategic plan is to leverage global assets to bring six world-class small cars to the American market by the end of 2012. The company plans to introduce its next-generation Ford Focus global small car in 2010—and a battery-electric version of the Focus—in 2011. The Focus electric car is being developed in partnership with Magna International, a major global parts supplier.
Ford’s product plans also include a next-generation hybrid vehicle and a plug-in car in 2012.
From Swords to Ploughshares, From SUVs to EVs
In total, Ford is converting three truck and SUV plants to car plants—Michigan Assembly, Cuautitlan Assembly in Mexico, and Louisville, Ky. “This is about investing in modern, efficient and flexible American manufacturing,” said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. “It is about fuel economy and the electrification of vehicles.”
Along with the physical transformation at Michigan Assembly Plant, the UAW and Ford are working on a framework for higher levels of productivity. “The UAW is a key partner in enabling us to build these world-class vehicles competitively in the United States,” said Joe Hinrichs, group vice president, Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs.