Sign of the Times: Ford Transforming SUV Assembly Plant Into a Small Car Plant

Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant

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.

[Via Ford]