US - Ford has said it will spend US$900m on its facilities in Michigan in order to ready for the production of both electric and autonomous vehicles. This is the latest in a string of investments that the OEM has recently announced it will make in US plants.

“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,” commented Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president, global operations. “This is good news for the future of southeast Michigan, delivering more good-paying manufacturing jobs.”

The plan is to expand capacity at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant so that it becomes the production home of vehicles using the company’s next-generation battery electric vehicle architecture, which Ford said it was developing back in January 2018. The plant currently operates one shift, but a second will soon be added. The expansion will also enable the production of the next-generation Mustang.

A new autonomous vehicle manufacturing centre is also being built as part of the company’s investment in Michigan. Here it will upfit purpose-built hybrid vehicles with self-driving technology and unique interiors, starting in 2021, with the first vehicles being used for commercial purposes.

“As we ramp up AV production, this plan allows us to adjust our investment spending to accommodate the pace of growth of this exciting new technology,” Hinrichs added. “This new plan combines our core strength in mass manufacturing with the agility and leanness we’ve shown with our modification centres for specialty manufacturing.”

Outside the US, Ford has revealed its intension to make its next-generation Transit Connect van at its plant in Hermosillo, Mexico. Production is slated to begin in 2021, and according to the OEM, is a key part of its plan to boost its global competitiveness.