Ford to Spend $500M on Michigan Battery, Hybrid Production

By dancurranjr On December 26th, 2009

Ford Motor Co. has outlined plans to invest as much as $500 million in Michigan to engineer and assemble battery packs for a new generation of electric vehicles and manufacture a new hybrid and plug-in hybrid here — if state lawmakers approve a request for tax credits it is submitting today in Lansing.

These moves would consolidate much of Ford’s electric vehicle research, development, engineering and manufacturing in the state, creating approximately 1,000 new jobs at the company.

“We think it has a great opportunity to help in the economic growth of Michigan,” said Nancy Gioia, director of Ford’s global electrification programs. “It promotes Michigan’s competitiveness.”

Ford’s announcement comes a day after General Motors Co. said it would invest $336 million to upgrade its Hamtramck plant to produce the Chevrolet Volt and the next-generation Malibu.

Ford, which was the first U.S. car maker to manufacture a hybrid, plans to begin production of a battery-powered commercial van next year, to be followed by a battery-powered version of its new Focus compact in 2011. The company also is readying a new generation of gasoline-hybrids.

It currently purchases battery packs for its hybrid vehicles from Delphi Corp., which assembles them in Mexico. But the automaker said battery engineering is a “core competency” that is too important to entrust to a supplier.

If the state does not approve tax credits for Ford, the automaker said it is considering other sites.

The new Ford Focus and other vehicles based on the global compact platform are slated to be produced at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.

Ford said it has not decided where in Michigan the batteries would be assembled.

SOURCE: Detroit News

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