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Ford Betting Big on Electric Vehicles and Driverless Car Technology

Ford is the latest company to announce the ramping-up of its plans for producing more EVs and growing its driverless vehicle technology.

AFP Relaxnews

Updated:December 8, 2017, 10:42 AM IST
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Ford Betting Big on Electric Vehicles and Driverless Car Technology
Ford is the latest company to announce the ramping-up of its plans for producing more EVs. (Image: Ford)
While names new to the automotive industry are popping up all the time as electric and driverless vehicle technology continues to develop, the major names of the motor industry appear to be going all-in too. Ford is the latest company to announce the ramping-up of its plans for producing more EVs and growing its driverless vehicle technology. The Blue Oval says it's moving production of its first all-electric crossover to Mexico, in order to create additional capacity at its home facility in Michigan to make way for greater investment in autonomous vehicles.

Ford's first battery-powered crossover is still planned to go into production in 2020. But an internal memo obtained by Automotive News says it will now be assembled at its Mexican factory in Cuautitlan, instead of at Flat Rock in Michigan, where it was originally intended to be produced.

The memo says of the move to Mexico, "This allows us to bring this exciting new vehicle to global customers in a more effective way to support our overreaching business goals."

Ford's new CEO, Jim Hackett, is trying to assert a level of competitive balance across the brand and its operations. The idea of making Flat Rock into a center of excellence for autonomous vehicle technology is balanced by making what is expected to be a very low-margin electric crossover in a country with lower labor costs.

It was originally intended that the crossover EV would be built at Flat Rock alongside some sort of driverless vehicle that was planned to go on sale in 2021. Both projects are still going ahead as part of a $700 million total investment, and the 700 new jobs promised for Michigan could still come to fruition. That's because on Wednesday a further $200 million investment and 150 jobs have been promised for more autonomous vehicle development, which could offset the jobs lost to Mexico for building the new crossover there.

Ford also confirmed on Wednesday that the autonomous vehicle is going to be a commercial-grade hybrid, and an entirely new nameplate for the Ford range.

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