Flat Rock to build robo cars
Ford also planning to move electric SUV production to Mexico
Ford Motor Co. thinks it soon will need more room in Michigan than expected to build its autonomous vehicles — and it’s picked Flat Rock Assembly as the place to build them.
The company now plans to build its new all-electric SUV at an existing facility in Mexico; that vehicle originally was slated for Flat Rock. The change will allow the Dearborn-based automaker to manufacture greater numbers of its upcoming autonomous vehicles and will lead to more jobs at the Michigan plant, Ford spokesman Alan Hall said.
It’s another change of Ford’s plans for Mexico, and a move that could draw the ire of President Donald Trump, who less than a year ago praised the company’s plan to build electrics at Flat Rock. During his campaign and early in his presidency, Trump frequently criticized U.S. automakers — singling out Ford multiple times — for plans to build factories outside of the U.S.
But producing the low-margin electric vehicles in Mexico will ultimately be cheaper for Ford, and the lower production costs protect against losses that could come if Congress votes to kill the $7,500 federal tax credits for electric vehicle purchases. Plus, according to experts, plans to prep the Michigan factory for greaterthan-anticipated volumes of autonomous vehicles make Ford look good.
“It’s a good statement that they’re focusing on AVs (autonomous vehicles),” said Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. “Every car company wants it to be seen that they’re thinking about that.”
The hybrid-electric autonomous vehicle to be built at Flat Rock will be an entirely new model. Ford will invest an additional $200 million at the plant over the