Ford has three important SUV launches this year.
As you know, Ford is focusing on SUVs, crossovers, and trucks for the foreseeable future, and is scrapping its entire US passenger car line-up apart from the Mustang. To prepare for its upcoming SUV onslaught, the Blue Oval automaker has announced it has invested $1 billion in its Chicago Assembly and Stamping Plants and is adding 500 new jobs.
This will expand production capacity of the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer including the Explorer ST and Explorer Hybrid, the all-new Police Interceptor Utility, and the all-new Lincoln Aviator. Work will be completed in the spring, and the additional 500 full-time jobs will bring total employment at the two plants to approximately 5,800.
Ford says these new investments will enable the automaker to build an all-new body shop and paint shop at Chicago Assembly, and make major modifications to the final assembly area. The company is also adding all-new stamping lines in preparation for the three SUVs, as well as advanced manufacturing technologies at the plants including a collaborative robot with a camera that inspects electrical connections during the manufacturing process. In addition, several 3D printed tools will be installed to "help employees build these vehicles with even higher quality for customers."
According to Ford, $40 million of the announced investment will be spent to make the Chicago Assembly and Stamping better places to work by adding new LED lighting and cafeteria updates, new break areas, and parking lot security upgrades.
"We are proud to be America's top producer of automobiles. Today, we are furthering our commitment to America with this billion dollar manufacturing investment in Chicago and 500 more good-paying jobs," said Joe Hinrichs, Ford Global Operations president, at the Chicago Auto Show.
"We reinvented the Explorer from the ground up, and this investment will further strengthen Ford's SUV market leadership." Chicago Assembly is Ford's longest continually operating vehicle assembly plan. The factory started producing the Model T in 1924 and was converted to war production during World War II.