Ford Motor Co. will create 6,200 new jobs and invest $3.7 billion in three Midwestern states, primarily to support its plans to rapidly expand its production of battery-electric vehicles.
Among other things, Ford will add a second BEV for its commercial vehicle division, Ford Pro, at a plant in Ohio by “mid-decade,” the automaker said during a media conference call Thursday morning. But some of the jobs and funding will go toward conventionally powered product programs, including the launch of the next-generation Ford Mustang and Ranger pickup models.
“We’ve embarked on what may be the most radical and exciting transformation, certainly the most exciting during my time with the company,” said Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford Blue, the company’s division focusing on internal combustion-powered vehicles. “We’re investing in a whole new generation of vehicles, services, technologies and experiences for a whole new generation of customers.
Thursday’s announcement impacts plants and workers in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. A total of 6,200 new union jobs will be added — though that figure includes transforming about 3,000 current temporary jobs into full-time work represented by the United Auto Workers Union, Galhotra explained.
Longer term, Ford plans to create about 74,000 indirect jobs by 2026, primarily to support its electrification push.
The automaker launched its first long-range BEV, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, for 2021. A second model, the F-150 Lightning, entered production in April, the first of the pickups just rolling out to dealers across the U.S. Ford has confirmed other are coming, including a first BEV for the Lincoln brand. And it has strongly hinted that it will make electrified versions of other “icon” products, many industry watchers expecting that to include the Explorer SUV.
Initial demand for Ford’s BEVs has proven stronger than anticipated, CEO Jim Farley has said on several occasions. The announcement made on Thursday includes funds to expand production of the Lightning. The carmaker originally planned to produce just 25,000 annually. It now wants to boost that to 150,000.
Separately, Ford has begun delivering an electric version of its big Transit delivery van, dubbed the e-Transit. The two are produced side-by-side at the Kansas City, Missouri plant covered by the Thursday announcement. The electric model is sold through the new Ford Pro unit.
“We have tremendous demand for (both) Transit and e-Transit right now,” said Galhotra, “so we’re adding another shift.”
Another all-electric commercial vehicle will now be added at the plant, as well, said the executive, though he declined to provide more details during a question-and-answer session with reporters.
Ford earlier this year announced it was splitting its operations into a variety of essentially independent units, Ford Blue focused on models relying on internal combustion technology, the new Ford Model e targeting battery-electric vehicles.
The automaker has set a goal of selling 2 million battery-electric vehicles by 2026. To support that plan it not only is upgrading existing facilities but also adding new plants. This includes the five square-mile BlueOval City complex being built near Memphis, as well as two battery plants in Kentucky that were announced last autumn. The Tennessee facility will produce the next-generation F-150 Lightning as well as a second pickup that has not yet been identified. Many observers believe it will be a version of the existing midsize Ranger line.
During the Thursday media call, Galhotra was asked whether workers at the two new plants would be represented by the UAW, as are those at all other Ford plants in the U.S. today. He said that while the automaker has a “fantastic relationship” with the union, “We are very clear that it is the workers’ choice” whether they will be organized under the UAW.