AVON LAKE, Ohio (AP) — Ford will add 6,200 factory jobs in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio as it prepares to build more electric vehicles and launch two redesigned combustion engine models.
The company said it will invest $3.7 billion in the three states between now and 2026. It will also convert some 3,000 temporary workers to full-time status with increased pay and benefits.
It’s part of Ford’s plan to make 2 million electric vehicles a year globally by 2026.
Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford Blue, the division of the company that makes internal combustion vehicles, said the EV investment was needed in part because Ford was underestimating EV demand.
As soon as Ford opened reservations for the electric F-150, it began planning to expand the Dearborn plant that makes it, he said.
“Orders are much higher than the (production) capacity we entered,” said Galhotra. “This is the first time in my career that we expanded the factory before the factory was built.”
Ford stopped taking reservations for the 200,000 F-150 Lightning, and is now turning reservations into orders. About two-thirds of those contacted so far are converts, but the company said it did not have an exact number. In addition, the Mustang Mach-E SUV and E-Transit van were sold out for the year, said Galhotra.
A plant in Avon Lake, Ohio, near Cleveland, will be expanded so that it can build an unknown new electric commercial vehicle, with 1,800 new jobs.
Ninety more jobs will be added in Lima and Sharonville, Ohio. A factory in Claycomo, Missouri, near Kansas City, which makes electric Transit vans and large combustion engines will get a third shift of 1,100 workers to handle the increased demand.
In Michigan, Ford Motor Co. plans to add 2,000 jobs at three assembly plants, and another 1,200 at other facilities.
A factory in the Detroit suburb of Wayne, which is now building Ranger midsize pickups will be looking at investment and work to make the new Ranger. A factory in Flat Rock south of Detroit will make a new version of the Mustang muscle car. And the Ford Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn will see the investment and work so it can build more F-150 Lightning electric pickups to meet unexpectedly high demand. The company will also add 600 jobs at a new parts packaging facility in Monroe, Michigan, and another 600 at several Michigan component plants.
Like other automakers, Ford is finding itself adding workers to build internal combustion and electric vehicles as the industry makes the transition to battery power, said Kristin Dziczek, an industry-following Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago policy adviser.
While research shows that automakers will need fewer workers to build electric vehicles because there are fewer moving parts, that doesn’t mean massive layoffs, Dziczek said. Automakers are producing many of their own EV parts such as axles and electric motors in North America to avoid pandemic-related supply chain disruptions overseas, creating new jobs. Plus there will be retired workers over the next decade during the transition, Dziczek said.
“There are so many moving pieces,” he said. “It’s hard to say what level of work is required.”
The automaker has shifted temporary workers to full-time status with higher salaries to attract entry-level workers during the recent labor shortage, Dziczek said.
Ford won’t provide details on the commercial EVs that will be built at the Ohio Assembly Plant by mid-decade. The factory has been on the verge of closing down for most of its life but has managed to hold on. Galhotra says now has a bright future.
News of the expansion couldn’t have come sooner for Cody Newsome, a skilled trade intern at the factory layoff, who now makes large vans and trucks.
He hopes the company will bring him back to work as it builds more space and adds workers. “It’s huge for us because it’s a long-term investment,” said Newsome, 28, a third-generation Ford worker. “This is not a small project. So job security is huge.”
“We’ve been waiting for this day for a long time,” said Jason Williams, union representative at the factory. “We are trying to secure a future for our children, our families, community families.”
Ohio offered Ford about $200 million in incentives, while Michigan contributed about $150 million. Although there will be a small capital investment in Missouri, there is no incentive for this project.
Ford said it had begun shifting temporary workers to full-time, and had begun recruiting new workers.
The announcement came a year early when contract talks began with the United Auto Workers union. Announcements of new products and jobs are usually part of negotiations.
Ford’s decision to build three battery factories and one new assembly plant in Kentucky and Tennessee last year raised questions about the company’s manufacturing commitment to its home state and territory.
Michigan politicians worked hard to lure General Motors’ EV and battery assembly plant in January after losing a Ford plant to the Southern states.
It’s likely Ford will build a fourth North American battery plant in the Great Lakes region in a joint venture with SK Innovation of Korea, but Galhotra said he wasn’t ready to make an announcement yet.
At the speed Ford is moving with EVs, more production will be needed, Galhotra said, pointing to a Michigan site where electric F-150s are being built and commercial EVs will be built in Ohio. “We will have more announcements to come,” he said.