Ford was on a roll at this year's Detroit Auto Show. It launched its new 2011 Ford Focus compact sedan and hatchback, which got rave reviews, and its 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid won North American Car of the Year.
The company added a late-breaking press conference on Monday to make a further announcement about hybrids: It's investing $450 million in its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne to produce future hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles starting in 2012.
Future hybrids and plug-ins
That's the plant that will produce the new 2011 Ford Focus, along with the 2012 Ford Focus Electric. The latest announcement means that the same platform will also spawn both hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles yet to be announced.
In addition, in the words of Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, Ford will bring assembly of battery packs for these vehicles "back home from Mexico" to Michigan, to a plant now being chosen.
Those will be the first Ford packs to use lithium-ion cells, with their higher energy density. The nickel-metal-hydride packs for the current Fusion Hybrid are assembled in Mexico, as is the Fusion itself.
1,000 jobs, $1 billion invested
In total, Ford says, up to 1,000 jobs will be created in the state of Michigan for design, engineering, and manufacturing of hybrid transaxles, battery systems, and electric-drive vehicles. Most of those jobs will be at the Wayne plant, which formerly built sport-utility vehicles.
Ford has now invested almost $1 billion in U.S. assembly of electric and hybrid batteries and vehicles. The latest round comes with a package of $188 million of Michigan state tax credits and incentives. U.S. Department of Energy funds for advanced-vehicle development assisted Ford's efforts as well.
The latest round was announced by Ford board chairman and family scion Bill Ford, Governor Granholm, and various Michigan state politicians.
The short presentation ended on a slightly perplexing note, as Michigan State Senate majority whip Jason Allen lauded the new jobs and then advised everyone present to "check out Mustang Alley over there, they're great cars, and that's how we roll here in Michigan."
While the 2011 Ford Mustang offers new and more powerful V-6 and V-8 engines, there is no hybrid model and it does not contain an advanced battery pack. Confused head-scratching ensued.