Ford investing $135 million, adding 220 jobs for electric vehicle work
DETROIT (Bloomberg) — Ford Motor Co., working to make a quarter of its vehicles run at least partly on electricity, plans to invest $135 million and add 220 jobs at three Michigan facilities to help it introduce five such models by 2012.About 50 engineers will be hired for a research and development center to be created in the Detroit area, John Stoll, a Ford spokesman, said in an interview. Ford plans to add 170 production workers at two Michigan plants, he said.
Ford has said it will begin selling two electric vehicles and three new hybrids by 2012 and that such models will constitute 10 percent to 25 percent of its worldwide fleet in a decade. Automakers are developing models powered entirely or in part by electricity to meet U.S. fuel-economy standards.
“Ford has been at the forefront of layering this new technology into their vehicles,” Michael Robinet, an auto-industry analyst with CSM Worldwide, said in a telephone interview. “It’s been an incremental strategy, but one that’s well thought-out and bodes well for their future.”
Sales of the four hybrids Ford now offers are up 55 percent this year, according to researcher Autodata Corp. Hybrids made up 1.6 percent of Ford’s U.S. light-vehicle sales through April, up from 1.4 percent in 2009.
Ford plans to introduce a gasoline-electric version of its Lincoln MKZ sedan, the brand’s best-selling model, this year. The company also is rolling out electric versions of the Transit Connect van this year and Focus small car in 2011 in the U.S. The electric models will come out 6 months to 12 months later in Europe, Ford said.
U.S. rules require an average company-wide fuel economy rating of 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016, up from 25 mpg now.
Mark Fields, the automaker’s president of the Americas, announced the electric-vehicle plan today at Ford’s Rawsonville Road factory in Ypsilanti, Mich, which will receive about 40 of the new jobs.
Ford said the other 130 manufacturing jobs will be added to its Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights, Mich. That plant will build electric drive transaxles beginning in 2012 — work currently done at a supplier plant in Japan. “Electrified vehicles are a key part of our plan to offer a full lineup of green vehicles, and we are building a center of excellence in the U.S., here in Michigan, to keep Ford on the cutting edge,” Fields said in a statement.
Ford has eliminated 47 percent of its North American workforce since 2006, and had 70,000 workers in the region at the end of the first quarter. The company has cut costs and overhauled its model lineup to become less dependent on sport- utility vehicles and pickup trucks.
The automaker ended three years of losses with a $2.7 billion profit last year as the U.S. auto market fell to the lowest level in 27 years.
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