Ford, like virtually every other automaker, is planning a big push toward electric and autonomous vehicles. In fact, the American carmaker has pledged $900 million to restructure its manufacturing in Michigan in order to achieve that goal.
Part of that money will go to building a new autonomous vehicle production plant in a yet-to-be-determined location in the state. At the manufacturing facility, workers will take commercial grade hybrid and electric vehicles and turn them into autonomous vehicles.
Their interiors will be updated and the cars fitted with tech that will allow them to become self-driving vehicles.
“This facility will be about more than just putting the brains into these autonomous vehicles,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations, told CNBC. “We will use the AV production center to upgrade the interiors and add the technology customers will want for a particular self-driving model.”
Ford expects to create 900 new manufacturing jobs, in its transition to electrified and self-driving cars. It will add a second shift to its Flat Rock, Michigan plant, which will assemble a yet-unannounced electric vehicle.
Meanwhile, Ford’s Mustang-inspired all-electric crossover, which will ‘go like hell’ is slated be built at a facility in Mexico.
Ford has been criticized for making the move toward electric and autonomous vehicles more slowly than some of its competitors. The blue oval’s crosstown rival, Chevrolet, is already building autonomous versions of its Bolt EV at its Orion Assembly Plant.
Despite its being seen as being behind the autonomy curve, Ford sees it otherwise. Hinrichs believes Ford’s timeline is well aligned with consumer tastes and battery technology.