2018 Ford Focus ElectricEnlarge Photo
The original plan was to build the SUV at Ford’s Flat Rock plant in Michigan, where Ford is spending $700 million to transform the site into a hub for electric and self-driving car development.
However, Ford has since decided to build the SUV at an undisclosed location in Mexico in order to free up space at the Flat Rock plant for anticipated high demand for self-driving cars.
The information was confirmed to Bloomberg by Jim Farley, Ford’s executive vice president of global markets, during a recent interview.
Ford autonomous car developmentEnlarge Photo
“Our growing ambitions in autonomous vehicles really means we don’t have room” for the SUV at the Flat Rock plant, Farley said. “We had to come up with a different manufacturing strategy for our EV.”
The move may raise the ire President Donald Trump who last year criticized Ford for proposing to move production of the Focus from Michigan to Mexico. The hubbub led to Ford confirming production of a new Ranger and Bronco in Michigan to fill the void of the Focus. The automaker has since confirmed that production of the Focus will take place in China instead of Mexico.
Ford aims to start production of the SUV in 2020. All Ford will say about the vehicle is that it will be a "small utility" and that it will be sold in North America, Europe, and Asia.
The automaker’s first self-driving car is due to start production in 2021. The car is expected to be devoid of a steering wheel, brake pedal, and gas pedal. The catch? You won’t be able to buy it. It will be used for a self-driving taxi service along predetermined routes. That’s because it's only going to feature Level 4 self-driving capability. It will be able to handle set routes on its own but that’s it. You need to reach Level 5 self-driving capability for the car to be able to drive anywhere on its own. Ford thinks such technology won’t be ready until about 2025.