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Ford Invests $50M In Chicago Plant For Hybrid Models

Ford Motor Co. is creating quite a stir in its Chicago-area facilities by investing $50 million into an initiative that will see 450 temporary workers from the union turn to full-timers, as a modification center close by will now be converted to handle the last assembly phase of the company’s electrified versions of the Aviator and Explorer model crossovers.

This move will be finalized by Q4, and allows the auto manufacturer to free up their Chicago plant’s main line for the gas versions of these models. The modification center that will be used is about one mile from Ford’s Chicago main plant, and the 200,000-square-foot building once dealt with Ford’s Police Interceptors; this job will now be moved to yet another building.

The temp staff being crossed over to full-time employees will come from Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant, and Stamping Plant. The company has plans to hire more workers to replace these ones.

Ford’s President of Automotive, Joe Hinrichs, recently stated that this investment will help the company “make up” on some lost production around new models’ launch curve, and may also lead to a rise in production for the following year. 

This announcement unravels after some handshakes with the union (UAW) to launch what is expected to be some tough negotiations around investment, wages, and jobs. Ford has exceeded the $900 million mark it had agreed on when it comes to investing in the Chicago plant as part of a 2015 contract. One area of concern has been using temporary employees, as the union would like to see more of a guarantee that these staff can hit full-time status.

Hinrichs believes this is a viable solution. He stated that the company got the idea after creating some pre production models of the Aviator and Explorer at the center.

Autonews recently reported that units will be shipped to this new center from the main Chicago plant, undergo final assembly, and then shipped back to the main plant for a final review in the customer acceptance line.

While both the Aviator and Explorer share a new rear-wheel-drive platform, the Aviator will get a plug-in hybrid model, dubbed Aviator Grand Touring, and the Explorer will come in a hybrid option.

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