Ford investment

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US automotive company Ford is investing $550m to transform its Michigan assembly plant into a manufacturing complex that will build its Focus global small car.

US automotive company Ford is investing $550m (£365m) to transform its Michigan assembly plant into a manufacturing complex that will build its next-generation Focus global small car along with a battery-electric version of the Focus for the North American market.

The plant, formerly the production site for Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigators SUVs, is one of three North American light truck plants that Ford is re-tooling to build small cars in the coming years.

The Focus will begin rolling off the line next year and the battery-electric version of the vehicle - Ford’s first all-electric passenger car - debuts in 2011.

As part of the re-tooling, Ford will consolidate its operations from its Wayne assembly plant. When production launches in 2010, approximately 3,200 employees will be building the Focus at the Michigan assembly plant.

The re-invention of the Michigan assembly plant forms part of Ford's goal to bring six small cars to the US market by the end of 2012.

To produce the vehicles, Ford is converting three truck and SUV plants to car plants - the Michigan assembly plant, the Cuautitlan assembly plant in Mexico (which begins building the Fiesta subcompact early next year) and the Louisville assembly plant (which will be converted to produce small vehicles from Ford’s global Focus platform beginning in 2011).

The zero-emission Focus battery-electric vehicle, which is being developed in partnership with Magna International, features an electric motor powered by a high-capacity lithium-ion battery pack and will be charged by being plugged into a 110V or 220V outlet.

In addition to the Focus battery-electric vehicle, Ford is collaborating with Smith Electric to sell a Transit Connect battery-electric commercial vehicle for North America in 2010. Ford’s product plans also include a next-generation hybrid vehicle and a plug-in hybrid vehicle in 2012.

The $550m investment in the Michigan assembly plant includes more than $430m in manufacturing investment at the site, as well as $120m for launch and engineering costs.