With its $550-million top-to-bottom transformation now complete, Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant is set to become the first facility in the world to turn out vehicles fitted with a full range of green powertrains, including high-efficiency gasoline engines, gas/electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. Located in Wayne, this former home of the full-size Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs will become the primary source point for the 2012 Ford Focus. In early January, the first salable production models are due to start rolling off ultra-modern lines that Ford says set benchmark levels of manufacturing flexibility that permit quick, easy switchovers to create multiple variations on the basic theme.
"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. "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."
Initially, Wayne plant production will be limited to gasoline-powered four-door sedan and five-door hatchback Focus models. However, the battery-powered Focus Electric vehicle goes into production late next year to be followed by a new hybrid and a plug-in hybrid in late 2012.
In addition to world-class adaptability -- which includes numerous state-of-the-art quality control and worker-friendly build processes -- the Wayne facility has been configured to be green to its core. Ford currently is teaming with Detroit Edison and Xtreme power to install a 500-kilowatt solar-voltaic panel array -- the latest solar generation system in the state -- as well as a secondary solar-charging system and a number of EV charging stations. When completed in 2012, the solar setups are expected to yield a projected energy savings of about $160,000 annually. "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."