Ford to invest $1.2bn in three Michigan auto plants
US automaker Ford Motor is investing $1.2bn in three manufacturing facilities in Michigan to prepare for production of the new Ranger and Bronco vehicles.
Of the total amount, the automaker plans to invest $850m on Michigan assembly plant where the new Ranger and Bronco will be produced.
The manufacturing Ranger vehicle is expected to start by the end of 2018, while Bronco production is planned in 2020.
With the investment, Ford aims to upgrade its Michigan assembly plant to produce more trucks and SUVs.
Upgrades at the plant are scheduled to begin this May and will follow the pattern used during vehicle changeover at Dearborn Truck Assembly Plant in 2014.
Ford claims that the new upgrades will take not more than four weeks for removal and reinstallation of the tooling required to build the new Ranger and Bronco ranges.
According to the company, the sales of midsize pickups have increased up to 50% in the past five years. Through the well-established Ranger and Bronco series, Ford aims to cater to the SUV and pickup truck markets in North America.
In addition, Ford is also investing $200m on a data centre to support its ambition of creating a mobility company.
The new data centre which will be located at the Flat Rock Assembly plant and will also help Ford tackle its data needs, as they are expected to increase by up to 1000%.
Data needs arise from the company’s manufacturing and business needs and new mobility services including more connected, autonomous and electrified vehicles.
At the Flat Rock Assembly, Ford recently announced an investment of $700m and to create 700 new jobs.
According to Money Control magazine, Ford’s $9bn investment commitment applies to United Automobile Workers (UAW) contract period through 2019 and the company is half way there. Ford has so far invested about $4.7bn.
The investment comes at a time when US President Donald Trump has been criticising automakers for outsourcing jobs and has also resorted to pointing out automakers individually and threatening them with high tariffs for vehicles manufactured outside of the US.
Image: A worker at one of Ford’s Michigan assembly plants. Photo: Courtesy of Ford Motor Company.