We don’t know much about Ford’s next-generation hybrid vehicles (which are due as early as 2012), but expect them to carry more domestic content. The automaker announced yesterday it is investing nearly $135 million in its U.S. manufacturing and engineering centers to design and build key components in-house -- and perhaps more importantly, within the United States.
“Electrified vehicles are a key part of our plan to offer a full lineup of green vehicles,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas, “and we are building a center of excellence in the U.S. to keep Ford on the cutting edge. Today’s announcement is another important step in our strategy to launch a family of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles around the world.”
Unsurprisingly, it seems most of Ford’s hybrid/EV investment will be applied within the state of Michigan. The company is adding a total of 50 electric vehicle engineers in both Dearborn and Livonia to design and validate battery packs and electric-drive transaxles for the next generation of Ford’s global C (i.e. Focus, Grand C-Max) and CD (i.e. Fusion, Escape, Edge) platforms. Ford will shift manufacturing of the battery packs from a plant in Mexico to its Rawsonville facility just outside of Ypsilanti, Michigan, while the transaxle will be fabricated at the company’s Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights instead of a facility in Japan.
Final assembly of the hybrid vehicles will also occur within Michigan. Ford has already announced that it will build the electric Focus at its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, but this announcement also indicates that two hybrid vehicles -- one built on the new C-platform and one on the next CD-platform -- will also be manufactured in the same factory. We wouldn’t be surprised if the next-generation Escape Hybrid -- which will share much with the next iteration of the European Kuga crossover -- calls this facility home.