From Mercury station wagons to Ford Broncos, Ford's Michigan Assembly plant has changed multiple times over the years. Soon, the plant will become the home of production for gas-powered, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles.
Production of the 2012 Focus four- and five-door has already begun, though sales don't begin until early next year. After spending $550 million to modernize the plant, Ford says the 1.2 million square-foot property is more flexible than ever before. The Electric Focus follows the more widescale variants to production, starting late next year. The hybrid and plug-in hybrid will start production in 2012. Ford claims that the Michigan Assembly Plant will be the first plant to build three versions of electrified vehicles, though the scale of this production remains to be seen.
"If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that customer wants and needs can change quickly - much more quickly than we have been equipped to efficiently respond to in the past," said Jim Tetreault, Ford vice president of North America Manufacturing. The Michigan Assembly Plant can account for multiple models on the same production line without lots of downtime.
The plant, in addition to some of the Focuses made, will be environmentally friendly thanks to a huge investment in solar power and many electric vehicle charging stations. Ford also makes a point of noting the new Focus plant's quality. That's important after the problems that plagued the introduction of the first-generation Focus. The 2000 Focus had recalls relating to the electrical system wiring, the A-pillar trim, and the 60/40 folding seats in the three-door hatchback and wagon to name a few, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Vision-guided automation at the Michigan Assembly Plant helps secure a better fit and finish for the doors, decks, and hoods. Ford claims their squeak and rattle track is best-in-class for shaking and rolling vehicles -- before you have the chance to do the same with a production car.
The proof of the Focus' increased first-year quality as well as the plant's flexibility will be seen in the year ahead. Which new compact vehicle catches your eye?
Displayed are vehicles that have previously been produced at the Michigan Assembly Plant.