During a press conference this morning held at the company’s Flat Rock production facility in Michigan, Ford released more details about its previously announced $4.5 billion commitment to electric and autonomous vehicles.
According to CEO Mark Fields, the company will stand by its plans to develop 13 new models over the next ten years—promising a hybrid autonomous vehicle by 2021—as well as developing and testing electric vehicle infrastructure, like a wireless charging system.
“Our investments and expanding lineup reflect our view that global offerings of electrified vehicles will exceed gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 15 years,” says Fields.
Ford’s announcement positions it as a leader among automakers in electrified vehicle technology. Competing traditional carmakers, such as Audi, Porsche, and Volvo, have also made significant investments in the technology, as have newer companies such as Tesla. But if Ford can meet this roadmap, it’ll have a sizable fleet of options on the road.
The CEO said Ford was encouraged by the “pro-growth policies of President-elect Trump and the incoming Congress indicated they will pursue,” and that tax and regulatory reforms are critical to U.S. competitiveness for “driv[ing] a resurgence in innovation and high-tech manufacturing.” Fields also noted that a proposed plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, will be scrapped; Ford will also build its next-generation Focus at an existing plant in Hermosillo, Mexico.
As for domestic manufacturing, Ford is committing an additional $700 million investment in the Flat Rock Plant in Michigan, just south of Detroit. The new Manufacturing Innovation Center will make the plant central to the company’s domestic and international electric vehicle strategy, and create 700 jobs.
United Auto Worker vice president Jimmy Settles, Jr.—who represents the largest auto worker union in the U.S.—said that such an investment in Flat Rock is the equivalent of “building a new plant.” He reports “crying with joy,” since he thought that Ford might eventually take the plant to the West Coast (Ford is currently testing autonomous vehicles in the Bay Area).
As part of this big electrification push, seven new models will be introduced in the next five years, including:
- A hybrid version of the Ford Mustang, which Fields says will be built at Flat Rock by 2020
- A hybrid version of the F-150 pickup, slated to be assembled at the Dearborn truck plant, which will be able to double as a mobile generator strong enough to power a mobile worksite
- Two different, pursuit-rated hybrid police vehicles, one of which will be built in Chicago
- A plug-in hybrid Transit Custom van in Europe, available in 2019
- A fully-electric small utility vehicle with a 300-mile range, which will be built at Flat Rock
- A fully autonomous vehicle meant for ride-hailing, predicted to be assembled at Flat Rock by 2021, that will have “no steering wheel, gas pedal, or brake pedal”
In addition, Ford plans to test a fleet of 20 Transit Connect hybrid taxi and van prototypes in New York and several major U.S. cities, which builds on the company’s experience with the Ford Escape Hybrid.
Ford, along with a consortium of European automakers, plans to invest in a series of high-speed electric vehicle charging stations in Europe, as well as a wireless charging station that will be tested in the U.S. By 2020, according to a company press release, consumers should expect “thousands” of stations across Europe.