A few years ago, Ford said it planned to build a battery-electric SUV at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan. Come December 2017, the automaker changed its mind, moving the EV SUV production to Cuautitlan, Mexico so that Flat Rock could build what The Detroit News called "a hybrid-electric autonomous car." In March this year, the automaker again changed tack: Mexico was out, Ford would invest $850 million in Flat Rock through 2023 to build "a next-generation battery electric vehicle," and the autonomous vehicle production would move to an unnamed site in southeast Michigan. A couple of months ago, Flat Rock was reported to get two new midsized EVs in Ford and Lincoln flavors to build, which would make up for the Lincoln Continental possibly going out of production. According to the highlights of the tentative agreement between Ford and the United Auto Workers on a new four-year contract, the plan has been reworked again.
The UAW posted a couple of screenshots of the agreement summary which were picked up by Miguel Martinez at Automotive News. One of the revelations is that Flat Rock, which builds the Mustang and the Lincoln Continental, won't get the aforementioned investment and is not slated for a new product anymore. The paperwork says now there will be a $250 million investment for the facility to build the next-generation Mustang, "including derivatives," and to continue Continental assembly "through its product lifecycle." If we need more proof that Lincoln's flagship luxury sedan is a one-and-done effort — a rumor that's 18 months old —this seems as good as any.
The highlights don't clarify where the EVs have been shifted. The guess is that they'll go to Ford's Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, Ohio, since the UAW-Ford tentative agreement highlights show that facility potentially getting a $900-million investment and a "New product to be added in 2023." Bloomberg cited anonymous sources as saying Ohio is where the EVs will be built.
That leaves Flat Rock sorely underused but, again, according to the UAW sheet, the Michigan plant would be be protected from closure during the four-year labor contract if union members ratify the agreement. The contract would commit Ford to "viability strategies" and "continuing to explore future opportunities" for a product to place at Flat Rock.
Elsewhere in the automaker empire, the Kansas City Assembly Plant that currently builds Transit vans will add an all-new electric Transit. In April this year, Ford debuted EV and PHEV Transit vans in Europe and made clear we would not get the PHEV version. The Kansas outfit will also build the all-new F-150 pickup, sharing that duty with the Dearborn Truck Plant slated to build the conventional pickup as well as the F-150 hybrid and battery-electric versions, and the F-150 batteries. Ford still has an EV headed to the Cuautitlan, Mexico plant next year, that being the Mustang-inspired electric crossover.
The Detroit Free Press has a breakdown of production apportionment, and Martinez also posted the UAW sheet listing the powertrain plant allotments. Workers began voting on the contract this week, we should know the results shortly.