Last week, we wrote about Ford’s plans to invest $900 million in a new autonomous vehicle manufacturing plant in Michigan.
You may be wondering about the background of this new production plant and exactly what kinds of vehicles Ford will be producing there. How did Ford reach this decision, and how will Ford’s new facility change the landscape of electric and autonomous vehicles?
Michelle Krebs, Senior Industry Intelligence Director at Cox Automotive, shed some light on the topic.
The town of Flat Rock, Michigan has long been home to a Ford manufacturing facility. The Flat Rock Assembly Plant was previously a joint venture with Mazda for the production of the Mazda 6. Currently, the only model being produced there is the Ford Mustang.
Enter Ford’s recent announcement about the next generation of battery-electric vehicles being built in Flat Rock.
Krebs said that Ford’s new line of EVs could include an all-electric or partially electric Ford F-150 pickup.
“The first significant electric vehicle coming from Ford is the Mustang-inspired sport utility, which will be built in Mexico,” Krebs said.
Ford’s previous plans for Flat Rock included an autonomous vehicle center at the assembly plant. But Ford has since announced that the company will be developing autonomous cars at an undisclosed location in southeast Michigan instead.
“My hunch is that it will be at the Michigan Central Station, a historic rail station in Detroit’s oldest community called Corktown,” Krebs said.
Ford already has a campus in this location, and Krebs believes that there is a small group doing AV work there even now.
Another factor to consider is Ford’s partnership with Volkswagen to produce autonomous vehicles, an alliance that was confirmed earlier this year.
“It may well be that they do some EV development together as well,” Krebs said. “Volkswagen has an EV platform that leaders at the company have stated they want to share with other makers. But nothing is official yet.”