Ford announced on March 20 it will invest $850 million to prepare its iconic Flat Rock assembly plant for building battery electric cars. It says it will spend an additional $50 million to equip that factory to manufacture autonomous vehicles. The Flat Rock facility currently makes Ford Mustangs and Lincoln Continentals. The company says EV production will begin in 2023 and add 900 jobs to the company payroll.
This is not the first time Ford has announced plans to invest in Flat Rock’s ability to produce next generation vehicles, says CNN. In January of 2017 it said it would invest $700 million in the plant to build electric and self-driving cars, a move that would add 700 jobs.
CleanTechnica readers are quite familiar by now with traditional automakers making big claims followed by years of inaction. The truth is that Ford has offered no information about what kind of electric car it plans to build in Michigan. Proposing to build an EV in 4 years is a little like Wimpy, the roguish cartoon character of Popeye fame promising, “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a cheeseburger today.”
What we do know is that Ford will kick off its electric car lineup with an SUV theoretically inspired by the Mustang. What the famous pony car has to do with a boxy SUV is anyone’s guess. That car, as yet unnamed, is due to be introduced at roughly the same time as the newly announced Tesla Model Y crossover SUV thingie.
The company says it will be “sporty,” whatever that means, and will have a range of 300 miles. Some industry observers think the Ford product will be named the Model E. If true, Elon Musk will be one unhappy fellow, as he wanted that designation for himself but didn’t act fast enough to secure the rights to the name.
Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs said this week, “The company is moving quickly toward producing what it previously described as a Mustang-inspired all-electric SUV that will be in showrooms next year, about the same time Tesla begins to deliver the first Model Y battery-SUV.” In fact, Ford coyly tweeted this pithy statement just moments before the Model Y: “Hold your horses.”
What we do know is that instead of building the car in the US, it will be assembled in a Ford factory in Cuautitlán, Mexico, according to Motor 1. Ford also announced this week it will add an undisclosed amount of jobs and investment dollars to a plant in Hermosillo, Mexico where it will build the next generation Transit Connect van starting in 2021.
After the 2016 election, corporations quaked in fear of incurring Trump’s wrath on Twitter. Today, says the New York Times, they simply ignore his pompous bluster and make business decisions based on economic principles rather taunts and threats from the alleged president.
Will American consumers care that an SUV — electric or otherwise — is assembled south of the border by a collection of drug dealers, murderers, and rapists? Probably not, as long as the price is right. Will it in fact be a true competitor to the Model Y? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.