Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn says it is adding battery electric vehicles to its Flat Rock Assembly Plant, will boost production of its Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator large SUVs, and has hired former Amazon executive Tim Stone to replace the retiring Bob Shanks as CFO.
The automaker says it will invest approximately $900 million and add 900 new jobs in southeast Michigan over the next four years as it brings fully electric vehicle production to Flat Rock and establishes an autonomous vehicle center in the region,
“We’ve taken a fresh look at the growth rates of electrified vehicles and know we need to protect additional production capacity given our accelerated plans for fully electric vehicles,” says Joe Hinrichs, president of global operations for Ford. “This is good news for the future of southeast Michigan, delivering more good-paying manufacturing jobs.”
Through this new plan, Ford is targeting to invest more than $850 million in the Flat Rock Assembly Plant through 2023, adding a second shift. The plant investment also includes funding to build the next-generation Mustang.
The company also announced it will build Ford’s first autonomous vehicles at a new AV manufacturing center in southeast Michigan — upfitting purpose-built, commercial-grade hybrid vehicles with self-driving technology and unique interiors — starting in 2021.
“As we ramp up AV production, this plan allows us to adjust our investment spending to accommodate the pace of growth of this exciting new technology,” says Hinrichs. “This new plan combines our core strength in mass manufacturing with the agility and leanness we’ve shown with our modification centers for specialty manufacturing.”
Ford also says it is building its next-generation North American Transit Connect small commercial and passenger van in Mexico, starting in 2021.
Due to increasing demand for its Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator large SUVs, Ford is boosting production at its Kentucky Truck Plant by 20 percent.
“Kentucky Truck Plant is home to two of Ford and Lincoln’s most successful vehicles,” says John Savona, vice president of North American manufacturing for Ford. “After seeing a continued increase in customer demand for Expedition and Navigator, we are boosting production for a second time to meet it.”
To produce even more Expeditions and Navigators, Ford has increased the line speed at the plant. The manufacturing team, according to Ford, gathered a group of salaried and hourly workers together to analyze the cycle times of each operation and found there were jobs that could not be completed in the allotted time. So, they added more workstations and split up some tasks to ensure that employees can complete jobs with quality craftsmanship and in the time allotted.
On the executive front, CFO Bob Shanks announced he will retire from Ford at the end of this year. Replacing him will be long-time Amazon Inc. finance executive Tim Stone, who will assume the Ford CFO role on June 1. Shanks will assist with the transition then work on special projects through the end of the year.
“Bob will leave a remarkable 42-year legacy at Ford,” says Jim Hackett, Ford’s president and CEO said. “As a CFO, he’s been relentless in driving for results and pushing the company to greater heights. Bob’s leadership was integral to Ford’s comeback during the great recession, and he has been an invaluable partner as we transform Ford to succeed in the next era.
“(Stone) was a key player in the incredible success at Amazon and he understands the principles of fitness and growth as complementary virtues for Ford’s future,” Hackett adds.