Have you ever experienced what it’s like to work in an auto factory? If you want to feel the vibe, there’s a new destination – the $4.7-million worth update of the Ford Rouge Factory Tour.
Part of the Henry Ford museum, the refreshed tour – think about lasers, 3D projectors, interactive displays and robots – strives to tell you not just the story of an American factory, but also the coming of age of the new Ford F-150 pickup. The original tour was unveiled a decade ago and offered the public the vibe of a working auto assembly plant – and with funding from the automaker has refreshed and reinvented itself, much in the way the company did with the new, aluminum intensive F-150 pickup that visitors can see how it’s built. The tour also graces onlookers with a historic display of key antique vehicles and has two theaters with films and displays.
The new F-150, unveiled back at the 2014 North American International Auto Show, made staff at the museum realize their tour was obsolete – and because Ford kept secret its years of work on the truck, the Henry Ford staff no alternative but to plan their own matching upgrade after February 2014, with the display already closed on August 25. “A project like this usually takes up to two years for a museum to do,” said Cynthia Jones, general manager of the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. But it reopened on November 22, with a new theater, displays, signs, Wi-Fi and physical updates to the building – which in a decade clocked over 1.1 million visitors. There’s a new 2015 F-150 on display, together with a completely overhauled Manufacturing Innovation theater (new floors, seven large screens and 100 seats) – it now has an 91/2-minute projection that narrates the birth of the 2015 model in a multimedia display with LED lights, lasers, 3D images, vibrating seats, dramatic music and two full-size production robots – all to accurately e-create the factory experience.