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Ford to Relocate Electric and Autonomous Vehicle Team to Detroit

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 12/15/2017 Motor Trend Staff
Ford-AV-and-EV-development-Corktown-neighborhood-Michigan-.jpg

Ford is moving about 220 employees who work on the development of electric and autonomous vehicles to a former factory in Detroit, taking a page from its past to make the vehicles it needs to succeed in the future.

The EV and AV business and strategy team, or Team Edison, will continue its work in the three-floor, 110-year-old historic brick building, CEO Jim Hackett and Executive Chairman Bill Ford announced at an event in the former factory in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood, which gets its name from immigrants from County Cork, Ireland, who settled there. The new location, which will be in operation early next year, is sentimental for Bill Ford who said his family emigrated to Dearborn from County Cork.

a sign on the side of a building© Motor Trend Staff

Leading mobility efforts at the "The Factory" as the building is known, is Sharif Marakby who rejoined Ford after leaving to work in Silicon Valley and is now vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification for the automaker.

Ford is spending $4.5 billion to introduce 13 electrified vehicles and also plans to introduce an autonomous hybrid vehicle in 2021 with the durability to serve as a commercial vehicle for ride sharing or deliveries. Ford recently announced it will make a new all-electric SUV in Mexico instead of Flat Rock, Michigan, freeing up capacity for self-driving vehicles at the Michigan plant.

Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Development Vehicle© Motor Trend Staff Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Development Vehicle

The talk of a different mobility future comes amid reports Ford will stop building the midsize Fusion sedan in North America in a few years, having already ceased production of the smaller Ford Focus in North America.

Hackett wouldn't confirm the specific product plans, but said he continues to look at reallocating capital and that the lineup is getting a more critical look than usual because he is a newcomer to the CEO job and to the auto industry. Hackett has said he will shift $7 billion of capital from cars to light trucks as he works to reimagine the automaker to meet changing consumer demands.

a man wearing a suit and tie© Motor Trend Staff

Reuters first reported that Ford will not build the next generation of the Fusion in Mexico. The car will continue to be built in China when the new sedan arrives in 2020. Continued production in Europe is also questionable. But Ford officials have said they will not export the car from China to the U.S. which is the plan for the smaller Ford Focus that is no longer built in the U.S.

Ford continues to ratchet down the car side of the business while increasing its focus on more profitable and popular trucks and SUVs.

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