By on March 28, 2017

Ford Factory

Ford Motor Company has announced that it will invest $1.2 billion into three Michigan facilities to strengthen its status among truck and SUVs manufacturers and to further enhance its role as a “mobility company.” Most importantly, the cash is needed if Americans ever want to get their hands on a Bronco or Ranger again.

Many of the investments are included in the automaker’s 2015 promise to pour nine billion dollars into its U.S. plants over the next several years. In an agreement with UAW made almost two years ago, Ford said it would pour $700 million into the Michigan Assembly plant, $150 million into the Romeo Engine plant, and $400 million for Flat Rock Assembly.

While these were not the only locations promised capital, Ford released an official statement that all three would see the promised amount — or better.  

The Michigan Assembly Plant is receiving $850 million to retool the facility ahead of the new Ranger and Bronco. Production will begin on the Ranger near the end of 2018, with the Bronco to follow in 2020. The swap will mimic the Dearborn truck plant changeover in 2014 and is speculated to create only four weeks of downtime. That’s important, as every day that the Ranger isn’t on the market is another day the company is missing out on one of America’s fastest-growing segments.

Ford has also made plans to invest the promised $150 million to expand capacity for engine components at the Romeo Engine plant. A portion of the undertaking will go toward powertrain production for the upcoming vehicles and follow a similar timeline. Engine production will continue for the F-Series, E-Series, Explorer, Edge, and Mustang lineup with tooling for an additional motor to be added in early 2018.

The automaker says the stimulus should create or retain 130 jobs in Romeo. However, since the two terms aren’t exactly interchangeable, it could indicate net zero new employment opportunities.

Flat Rock Assembly, on the other hand, is being promised 700 new openings from a previously announced $700 million investment. The vast majority of that money will go toward the the development of a production line capable of manufacturing electrified and autonomous vehicles. While Ford established its intent for Flat Rock as a mobility hub back in January, the Tuesday announcement included an additional $200 million for a secondary data center to supplement the investment — most likely at another location.

Ford was somewhat vague about what the new data centers would be purposed for. Assumably, the locations would be used for the data storage and management of its forthcoming mobility services and vehicle connectivity operations. But Ford also expressed that it might be used to strengthen its global insights and analytics team to “transform the customer experience, enable new mobility products and services, and help Ford operate more efficiently.”

That could mean anything from improving future autonomous vehicle mapping or software to identifying marketing opportunities and conducting consumer research. Either way, it reinforces Ford’s commitment to skew further away from its role as a traditional automaker and into the realm of mobility.

“At Ford, we are investing aggressively in building on our strengths today — including trucks, vans, commercial vehicles, performance vehicles and SUVs — while at the same time growing our leadership in electrification, autonomy and mobility services,” said Ford’s president of the Americas Joe Hinrichs in a company statement. “As America’s top producer of automobiles, we are proud to be going even further in our commitment to invest in manufacturing here at home.”

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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14 Comments on “Ford Invests $1.2 Billion Into Its Michigan Facilities, But the Cash Isn’t a Big Surprise...”

  • avatar

    I’m glad to see Ford investing more here at home, but I’m also not naïve enough to think that they’ll send production out of country quicker than a 5.0 can get to 60 if it means saving money. I wish we were as committed to homegrown production as other nations are…

    • 0 avatar

      “I wish we were as committed to homegrown production as other nations are…”

      America’s economic and tax policies do not lend themselves well to home-grown production. It punishes American producers along all steps of the way.

      Maybe Trump can effect tax policy changes that will stimulate home-grown production, but I doubt it. No one in Congress is going to help Trump implement his policies.

      Repealing and replacing the death-spiraling ACA was an easy piece of cake compared to changing America’s tax policy, and that failed miserably, as accurately predicted by John Boehner et al.

      We, The People, lose, every time.

      But Americans deserve everything they get, because we vote for it.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        I do believe the overall policy direction of the US and even NAFTA auto industry needs an overhaul.

        But, not in the direction favoured by the current US regime.

        Weaning and industry off of protection is similar to “kicking” a kid out of home and forcing the lid to learn to adapt and fend for themselves.

        All parties, mostly the UAW and US auto industry must realise the US is not entitled to any industry.

        An incremental breakdown and removal of protection should allow for these large and inflexible institutions time to change their culture.

        The US needs a strong and profitable auto sector. This will make US vehicles attractive for export.

        I wonder how much of this money Ford is investing is for “human” jobs?

        • 0 avatar

          “not in the direction favoured by the current US regime.”

          Very true, much to the dismay of all responsible for the concerted efforts behind implementing NAFTA, TPP and other constrained-trade agreements for America.

          I caught a glimpse on TV today where Trump is systematically dismantling the previous policies that constrained economic growth and jobs for Americans.

          This must be a fvcking nightmare for the ‘crats.

          But I say “good deal”. Let the ‘crats know what it is like to be the losers.

          • 0 avatar

            I thought we’d banished partisan politics from here.

          • 0 avatar

            FormerFF, I’m neither Republican, nor Democrat.

            I’ve been a registered Independent not affiliated with any political party since July 1985.

            I did not vote for Trump but I have to say I like everything he’s done so far.

            Trump’s keeping his promises he made to his followers.

            And I especially like the rollback of the EPA mandates, mpg requirements and energy policies!!! Great for America’s auto industry. Bring on the rolling coal pickup trucks!

            There’s room for all sorts of energy sources in America, including renewables, but at least now America will be utilizing their dino-fuels to the max as well.

            And I like that!

    • 0 avatar

      I understand the sentiment, but suspect that in practical terms “being committed to homegrown production” actually means “everybody pays more so that a few UAW employees can enjoy above-market wages for their region and skill level”.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Ford is no different than how you manage your personal business.

      You look at ways to maximise your dollar. If the government offered you subsidies (welfare) you will take it.

      If the government doesn’t give you welfare (even EV handouts) youwill find ways to use your money more efficiently.

      This is netter for the US, no different to Ford in the same situation.

  • avatar

    So Ranger production reportedly begins in late 2018 at MAP. I’m assuming they’d stop building C platform cars in the summertime then?

    • 0 avatar

      It says the changeover should take about a month to complete, so I don’t think they will need that much time.

      Its not like the Focus and C-Max are over, just over being built in Michigan. I can’t blame Ford, I’m quite sure the Ranger and especially the Bronco will be far more profitable than the C cars. Makes sense to build them where costs are higher.

      I always thought (before the announcement of the Ranger/Bronco being built there) that Ford should have added the Transit Connect to the line that builds the Focus and C-Max there. It seems to sell okay, and that would have the double benefit of not worrying with the Chicken Tax anymore as well as keeping the assembly plant running (they’ve had a few shut downs there in the past due to excessive inventory of Focus/C-Max).

      I’m so sick of autocorrect turning Ford’s Hybrid MPV into the X-Men. I added “C-Max” but it still defaults to comic books. Lol

  • avatar

    I have not been in Michigan Truck in years. I ll assume it s long gone so….

    On the wall in the plant that is the back wall for offices; bring back the giant LOGO.

    “Michigan Truck…. The Home of the Bronco.”

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