- Ford has announced production changes that coincide with pending requirements of the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USCMA) and potential tariffs on imported vehicles.
- Ford is adding more jobs to its Flat Rock, Michigan plant than it had anticipated, including for a fleet of automated vans.
- The Mustang Hybrid and an unnamed electric crossover are still on schedule.
Michigan auto workers will not build Ford’s all-electric SUV as former CEO Mark Fields promised in 2017. Instead, Mexican auto workers at Ford’s Cuautitlan plant who currently assemble the Fiesta will finish the Blue Oval’s first ground-up EV, effectively axing the plan for the company's Flat Rock, Michigan plant to produce all of its “long-range” electric cars.
The Flat Rock plant, which currently builds the Mustang and Lincoln Continental, will build the next-gen Mustang hybrid. Both the unnamed EV (pictured below) and the gas-electric Mustang (pictured above) are still scheduled to debut in 2020, most likely as 2021 models, and are part of an $11.1 billion push to sell 16 battery-electric and 24 hybrid models worldwide by 2022.
The EV’s production move coincides with the next-gen Transit Connect van, currently built in Valencia, Spain, that will also move to Mexico and replace the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ assembly line in Hermosillo. It's unclear what these moves mean for the future of the Continental and MKZ, as Lincoln has not yet made any announcements about dropping its sedan offerings like Ford has.
These announcements underscore company pressure to comply with the USCMA that requires stricter compliance on labor and parts manufacturing for vehicles to qualify for zero-duty trade among the three nations. Otherwise, Ford would continue to pay 25 percent tariffs for imported vans; like the rest of the auto industry, the company worried by threats by the Trump administration to instate such a tariff on all imported vehicles.
Despite retooling in Mexico, Ford is adding more jobs to the Flat Rock plant than the 700 jobs Fields had targeted when he announced it would also build autonomous vehicles for ride-hailing and ride-sharing. The automaker says it will add a second shift and create up to 900 new jobs at Flat Rock by 2023, which will include a dedicated center to convert existing hybrids into “purpose-built, commercial-grade” vehicles with “unique interiors” and at least Level 4 self-driving capability. These will be available in 2021. We suspect this will comprise a small fleet of automated Transit Connect vans that enterprising tech companies will use to ship packages and ferry passengers in very specific areas of the country.
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