Ford plans to meet changing market demand by alternating manufacturing of 5 different small vehicles with 4 different powertrains.
The automaker’s flexible and retooled Michigan Assembly Plant will be the one to test Ford’s ability to put in application its ambitious plan. around 5,170 employees working on three shifts have manufactured the gasoline powered Focus and Focus ST, the C-Max Hybrid, the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid and an electric Focus.
“We’re flexible to meet demand whether gas is $6 a gallon or $2.80 a gallon,” said Jim Tetreault, Ford vice president of North America Manufacturing. “And we’re capable of manufacturing any combination of these vehicles.”
From the $5.9 billion Energy Department loan offered to Ford, the automaker used $550 million to overhaul the Michigan Assembly Plant, which is the company’s 4th flexible assembly plant. The Michigan Assembly Plant joins operations in Louisville, Ky., Hermosillo and Cuautitian, Mexico, while the fifth plant, called the Flat Rock Assembly Plant, will become a flexible facility in 2013.
The flexible facilities give Ford the possibility to manufacture more models in fewer plants. These plants have helped the automaker reach 114% plant capacity, the highest rate in more than 30 years.