Ford Motor Co. is moving planned production of an electric crossover with a 300-mile range to Mexico from Michigan to make way for additional investment on autonomous vehicles in its home state.
Ford still plans to begin to build the battery-electric crossover in summer 2020, but it will be assembled at its plant in Mexico instead of Flat Rock, Michigan. The move comes as Ford and other automakers place increasingly large bets on electrification and self-driving technology. New CEO Jim Hackett is attempting to balance Ford’s competitiveness with other automakers and Silicon Valley tech companies while controlling costs and improving what he calls the company’s “fitness.”
Ford believes this move allows it to do both, by transforming Flat Rock into an “AV center of excellence” while moving an expected low-margin electric vehicle to a country with lower labor costs.
Ford originally said the battery-electric crossover would be built in Flat Rock alongside an unnamed autonomous vehicle due out in 2021. The vehicles were announced earlier this year as part of a USD700 million investment that would bring the plant 700 jobs.
Ford now plans to devote more volume to its autonomous vehicle development. With the move, confirmed Wednesday by Ford, Ford said it will invest an additional USD200 million and add another 150 jobs.
Ford also said that the autonomous vehicle will be a commercial-grade hybrid with an all-new nameplate. Ford believes it can launch its autonomous vehicle at-scale in 2021, Hall said. It plans to use the self-driving vehicle for commercial purposes like ride-hailing and package delivery, and it’s designing the vehicle for those specific purposes.