Ford Motor Company is spending $550 million to turn its Michigan SUV plant into a small car plant for the fuel-efficient Ford Focus. The plant will eventually manufacture the 2011 battery-electric version of the Focus as well.
The 52-year-old Michigan plant has been a mirror for trends in the auto industry, manufacturing station wagons, SUVs, and now electric cars. But when production of the Focus begins next year, 3,200 jobs will be created--something that decidedly bucks current auto industry trends. In addition to converting the Michigan Assembly Plant to a small car factory, Ford is also converting the Mexican Cuautitlan Assembly and the Louisville, Kentucky Assembly into small car manufacturing plants.
Ford's battery-electric Focus contains a high-voltage electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. The vehicle, which is part of Ford's plan to produce four electric vehicles by 2012, can be charged in any 110-volt or 220-volt outlet. Ford is also working on a Transit Connect battery-powered commercial vehicle for next year, a 2012 plug-in hybrid, and something it calls "a next generation hybrid vehicle", also scheduled for release in 2012.