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Ford Investing $50M in Chicago for Hybrid Production

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Ford Chicago Hybrid Production
Kenyata Thomas, Ford employee, building a 2020 Ford Explorer at Chicago Assembly Plant
Photo: Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company has announced that it will invest $50 million into its Chicago Assembly Plant to convert a 200,000-square-foot modification center for final assembly of the Ford Explorer Limited Hybrid and Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring.

The move will also see 450 temporary union workers from Chicago Assembly and Ford’s Chicago Stamping Plant convert to full-time employment. Ford intends to hire more workers to cover those positions.

Moving production of the Ford Explorer Limited Hybrid and Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring to the facility allows Ford to dedicate the main line of Chicago Assembly entirely to production of non-hybrid versions of both vehicles. The facility at which the hybrids will be finalized is where Explorer vehicles were previously modified to become Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles. Ford will now build its LEO vehicles at a new site.

Whatcha Gonna Do? When the more efficient 2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility comes for you

Ford President of Automotive Joe Hinrichs told Automotive News that the move will allow Ford to get both the Explorer and Aviator up to full manufacturing potential at Chicago Assembly. This will allow Ford to offset manufacturing shortfalls typical of a new vehicle launch and could lead to an increase in production capacity by 2020.

The announcement comes just a week after Ford kicked off negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the United Auto Workers. By moving 450 temporary workers into full-time roles, Ford hopes to address one of the UAW’s primary concerns by demonstrating the potential for temp workers to gain full employment.

“When we work together, we can find creative solutions,” Hinrichs told Auto News. “And this is a really creative solution.”

Earlier this year, Ford announced a $1 billion investment in Chicago Assembly Plant and Chicago Stamping Plant, which would include the addition of 500 full-time jobs.

More on Ford and Chicago: All the news from Ford coming out of this year’s Chicago Auto Show

News Source: Automotive News (subscription required)