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Ford investing $3.7 billion to produce more electric vehicles

The road ahead for electric vehicles
The road ahead for electric vehicles 04:21

Ford Motor Co. will add 6,200 unionized factory jobs in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio as it prepares to build more electric vehicles and roll out two redesigned combustion-engine models.

The company said Thursday it would invest $3.7 billion in hiring new workers in the three states between now and 2026. It will also convert about 3,000 temporary workers to full-time status with pay raises and benefits, the company said. The job expansions are part of Ford's plan to ramp up its EV production to two million electric cars per year globally by 2026.

A factory in Avon Lake, Ohio, near Cleveland, will be expanded with 1,800 new jobs so that it can build an unidentified new electric commercial vehicle. Ninety more jobs will be added in factories in Lima and Sharonville, Ohio. A plant in Claycomo, Missouri, near Kansas City, that makes big electric and combustion-engine Transit vans will get a third shift of 1,100 workers to handle increased demand.

In Michigan, Ford plans to add 2,000 jobs at three assembly plants and another 1,200 at other facilities.

A look at Ford’s first electric pickup 03:36

A factory in the Detroit suburb of Wayne that now builds the Ranger midsize pickup will see investment and jobs to make a new Ranger. A plant in Flat Rock south of Detroit will make a new version of the Mustang muscle car. And Ford's Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn also will see investment and jobs so it can build more F-150 Lightning electric pickups to meet unexpectedly high demand. The company also will add 600 jobs at a new parts packaging facility in Monroe, Michigan, and another 600 at several Michigan component plants.

The billions of dollars are needed in part because Ford underestimated the demand for electric vehicles, said Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford Blue, the company's division that makes internal combustion vehicles. As soon as Ford opened reservations for the electric F-150, it began planning to expand the Dearborn plant that makes them, Galhotra said. 

Demand for electric greater than expected

"The reservations were so much higher than the (production) capacity that we had put in," he said. "This is the first time in my career that we were expanding the plant before the plant was built."

Ford said in April that it lost $3.1 billion earlier this year in part because of a shortage of semiconductor chips, but also due to its heavy investment in electric-vehicle startup Rivian.

Like other automakers, Ford finds itself adding workers to build both internal combustion and electric vehicles as the industry makes a transition to battery power, said Kristin Dziczek, a policy adviser with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Automakers are producing many of their own electric vehicle parts such as axles and electric motors in North America to avoid pandemic-related supply chain disruptions overseas, creating new jobs for now, Dziczek said. 

"There are so many moving pieces," she said. "It's hard to say what the employment level needs to be."

Many former Ford employees said Thursday they see the upcoming expansion as a chance to get back to work. 

"We've been waiting for this day for a long time," said Jason Williams, a union bargaining representative for Ford employees. "We're trying to secure the future for our kids, our families (and) families of the community."

Ford's expansion couldn't come any sooner for Cody Newsome, a third-generation Ford worker.

"This is really huge for us because this is a long-term investment," said Newsome, 28, who has been laid off. "This is not a small little project."

At the pace Ford is moving with electric vehicles, more production will be needed, Galhotra said. He pointed to the Michigan site where the electric F-150 is being built and the commercial electric vehicles to be built in Ohio. 

"We'll have more announcements to come," he said.

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