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With transformations worth $550 million completed, Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant has become the world’s first factory to be able to produce not only fuel-efficient gas-powered cars, but also three production versions of electrified vehicles including battery electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid.
Set to start production in the beginning of next year, the Ford Focus will be one of the models to be built in Michigan. In late 2011 Ford has predicted the start of the production of the Focus Electric zero-emission battery electric vehicle and it will be followed in 2012 by a new hybrid and a plug-in hybrid.
“We’ve modernized just about every square foot of this facility to establish a new standard for a high-tech, green, flexible and efficient auto factory,” said Jim Tetreault, Ford vice president of North America Manufacturing. “The transformation of Michigan Assembly Plant stands as a symbol for the transformation of Ford.”
Ford will also be installing outside a new 500-kilowatt solar panel system that will help generate renewal energy for production of Ford’s all-new Focus and Focus Electric cars. Further, ten electric vehicle charging stations will be spread on the property to recharge the electric trucks that transport parts between adjacent facilities. Another solar energy system is scheduled to be installed later date to power lighting systems at Michigan Assembly. Together the both systems will be able to save about $160,000 per year in energy costs.
Thanks to the transformations the Michigan plant becomes Ford’s most flexible, high-volume and modern manufacturing facility in its global operations. Other facilities are also being transformed according to this flexibility principle.
The plant will now be able to produce multiple models down the same production line without requiring considerable downtime for changeover of tooling.
“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 Tetreault. “At Michigan Assembly, we will achieve a level of flexibility we don’t have in any other plant around the world, which will allow us to meet shifting consumer preferences in real time.”
Besides the physical transformation of the plant, Ford and the United Auto Workers have developed a framework to establish a strong, progressive culture that encourages joint problem solving and continuous improvement of the production process.
“This plant is an inspirational example of how a modern manufacturing facility should look and work,” said Tetreault. “It’s bright, high-tech and efficient, while also being environmentally and ergonomically friendly.”
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