2011 Ford Focus - European modelEnlarge Photo
Moving steadily forward on its plans to build and sell its global small cars in North America, Ford Motor Company announced it would spend more than half a billion dollars to retool its Michigan Assembly Plant, in Wayne, MI, to produce the 2011 Ford Focus that will go on sale late next year.
The company will invest $550 million to build not only standard versions of the 2011 Focus, but also the battery-electric version in 2011. Prototypes of the Focus EV are now being tested, using bodies from the current 2009 Ford Focus, a model that is unique to North America.
Among other updates is a flexible body-shop operation that uses reprogrammable tooling, standardized paint-shop equipment, and a common build sequence in final assembly. This lets Ford switch quickly and efficiently among any future models that have been engineered for assembly in the same order of steps. Similar equipment will be installed in a Louisville, Kentucky, truck plant that will build further, unspecified models on the Focus platform starting in 2011.
First opened in 1957, the 2.9-million-square-foot plant formerly known as Michigan Truck sits on 140 acres and employs roughly 3,200 workers. It has built bodies for stations wagons (remember those?), as well as assembling the Ford Bronco, Ford F-Series pickup truck, and until last year, the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator full-size SUVs.
It's one of three truck or SUV plants being converted to produce Ford's global car designs in North America. Early next year, the Cuautitlan Assembly Plant in Mexico will begin building the 2011 Ford Fiesta subcompact. Ford is already letting young drivers test European versions of the Fiesta.
The Focus EV is being developed with Magna International, which first proposed the program to Ford. Its high-capacity lithium-ion battery pack powers an electric motor that drives the front wheels, and Ford estimates the range to be roughly 100 miles between recharges.
As well as the Focus EV, Ford will collaborate with Smith Electric on a small electric commercial van, based on its upcoming 2010 Ford Transit Connect. The electric van will hit showrooms next year, and is to be built by Smith at a plant in Kansas City.
Ford Focus EVEnlarge Photo
[SOURCES: Ford Motor Co.]