Ford Motor Company has confirmed plans to move production of its upcoming battery-electric crossover from Michigan to Mexico. The move is designed to give the company additional space at its Flat Rock Assembly plant in Michigan for the development of autonomous vehicles.
News of the venue change was first reported by Automotive News via an internal Ford memo. Ford has since confirmed it has adjusted production plans to move the new crossover to Mexico.
Ford announced the crossover back in January as part of a $700 million investment into its Flat Rock facility. At the time the company said it was planning to start production of the electric crossover with 300 miles of range in summer 2020 at Flat Rock, while a new autonomous model would commence production in 2021.
Although the company has not issued details on the autonomous vehicle, it has confirmed it will be a vehicle dedicated to transportation services such as ride hailing and delivery. It isn’t clear if this autonomous model will even be sold to individual customers.
With today’s announcement, Flat Rock is going to be solely focused on autonomous investment going forward. Ford is actually injecting an additional $200 million capital investment into Flat Rock to accelerate autonomous vehicle plans. The additional investment will create an additional 150 jobs.
Likewise, moving the electric crossover to the company’s Cuautitlan, Mexico plant will likely enhance already-low margins on the vehicle. According to the memo obtained by Automotive News, the crossover will be a global product produced in Mexico.
Ford says the automaker is seeing a bigger opportunity with autonomous vehicles than originally planned prior to the January announcement. Of course, Ford has switched CEO’s since the previous announcement with Jim Hackett tasked to accelerate Ford’s electrification and autonomous vehicle strategies.
The Blue Oval brand is also trying to overcome analyst and investor sentiments that it is lagging Silicon Valley and crosstown rival General Motors when it comes to autonomous vehicle development.