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Ford Shifting SUV Plant to Electric Vehicles

ford-focus2Ford is retooling a Michigan SUV plant to produce its more fuel-efficient Ford Focus, including an electric version in 2011.

Ford is spending $550 million to transform the plant into a modern, flexible small car plant, with help from Michigan state incentives. The plant formerly made the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, two of Ford’s largest SUVs.

The company has promised to introduce four new electric vehicles by 2012.

The electric Ford Focus is being developed with Magna International. It uses a lithium-ion battery pack that can be charged by both 110-volt and 220-volt outlets..

Ford’s other electric vehicle plans include:

  • a commercial vehicle dubbed Transit Connect, in collaboration with Smith Electric. The vehicle is planned for 2010.
  • a plug-in hybrid for 2012.

The plant will employ so-called “flexible manufacturing,” meaning that at least 80 percent of the robotic equipment an be programmed to weld vehicles of various sizes and shapes. The non-product specific manufacturing scheme offers more flexibility to add product lines, according to a press release.

Ford came in second only to Honda in patents for electric and hybrid vehicles in 2008.

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