Posted on December 25, 2010
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Ford has announced that thanks to a $550 million investment in their Michigan Assembly Plant (which used to make gas guzzling SUVs, and now has a 0.5-megawatt solar system and electric trucks that carry parts around), they will be able to make 4 different versions of the Focus: the regular gasoline-powered one, a gas-electric hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and an all-electric version.
At 1.2 million square feet – about the size of 22 football fields – the plant becomes Ford’s most flexible, high-volume and modern manufacturing facility in its global operations. [...]
The changes at the plant will allow the company to run multiple models down the same production line without requiring considerable downtime for changeover of tooling. Two different models of the Focus can be adjusted between builds without restrictions.
Flexible Manufacturing Can Lead to Cheaper EVs
That’s smart, because there are a lot of unknown variables that can affect demand for greener cars (the price of oil, a cap & trade agreement, a carbon tax, etc), and it’s also much easier to get economies of scale if you spread the cost of the machinery over more than one model. This should lead to less expensive hybrids and electric cars, and it should also help Ford keep up with demand more easily (what’s the point of making electric cars if nobody can buy them because you only make a few each year?)
The Focus Electric battery electric vehicle goes into production late next year followed by a new hybrid and plug-in hybrid in late 2012. The specs aren’t out yet, but we do know that the electric Focus will use LG Chem batteries and will only be available in certain markets at first.
Ford to Build Three Electric Models at Green Plant
$50,000 Electric Ford Coming in 2010, 170 MPG Hybrid in 2012
Ford Receives Michigan Tax Credits for Future Electric Vehicles, Battery Development
Transformation of Michigan Assembly Plant Symbolizes Ford’s Transformation
Ford to Spend $500M on Michigan Battery, Hybrid Production