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Ford union deal confirms EV plans, electric F-150 will be built in Dearborn

Ford renegotiated its union contract last week, coming to a relatively speedy agreement between the automaker and its workers. The agreement includes a detailed breakdown of plant investments, including which cars will be made where.

Of particular note, the list of cars includes two full electric vehicles (F-150 and Transit), two plug-in hybrids (Escape and Lincoln Corsair), and multiple other conventional hybrids. The electric F-150 will be built alongside the standard F-150 in Ford’s main truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan, where Ford also plans to produce batteries for the electric F-150.  While the Mach E is not specifically mentioned, “Mustang derivatives” are, and it looks like that car will be built in Flat Rock, Michigan.

This swift negotiation comes a few weeks after the resolution of a strike at competitor General Motors, which lasted more than a month and cost the company billions of dollars.

Worker negotiations have included discussions over advanced powertrain strategy in recent years, with some union leaders wanting to secure long-term viability for jobs in the face of massive change in the auto industry.

GM’s negotiation involved GM dangling the prospect of electric truck production as a way to get workers back to work.  And Audi’s worker union made similar demands for EV production not too long ago.

Ford’s deal details investments and vehicle lines for each Ford plant in the US.  Most plants look like they will see a continuation of current vehicle lines, with PHEVs and BEVs being added at three plants:

Dearborn gets the electric F-150 and will build batteries onsite, while Kansas City will build an all-new Transit BEV, and Louisville will produce Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair PHEVs.

Ford has many PHEV models (branded “energi”), but most of them have small batteries, and we generally have not covered them at Electrek. While we don’t know the specs of the Escape and Corsair yet, it’s suspected that they will have relatively small 20-mile-ish batteries, similar to many of Ford’s other PHEV offerings.

The Ford plan also details powertrain investments, with a couple mentions of electric powertrains:

EVs will get a new BEV transmission line at Ford’s Livonia, Michigan, transmission plant. The Van Dyke plant in Sterling Heights will build electric motors and transaxles. The Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti will build batteries, but those will be for Ford’s conventional hybrids.

We have no details yet on the Transit BEV, but considering that the Transit is primarily for the European market, it may not come to the US. Ford does sell the smaller Transit Connect in the US, and previously has produced some electric versions of this van through a partnership with Azure Dynamics, but only a couple thousand were built before production stopped in 2012.

It also looks like Ford’s upcoming “Mustang-inspired” Mach E electric crossover will be built in Flat Rock. That entry mentions “all new Mustang, including derivates.” We can find no other mention of the Mach E, so suspect that it will fall under this umbrella.

In other Mach E news, Ford announced today that it’s teaming up with Idris Elba to promote the car, in advance of its unveiling on November 17.

While Ford doesn’t make any EVs at the moment (they stopped building the Ford Focus electric, which was only a retrofit anyway, last year), they’re among the automakers who are talking the biggest talk about their future in electric vehicles.

The company claimed last year that it’s going “all-in” on EVs after a change in company leadership, and the new CEO Jim Hackett formed a new internal team, called “Team Edison,” to oversee electric car programs.  Last month they announced big EV charging plans in partnership with Greenlots and Amazon, and earlier this year Ford invested $500 million into Rivian after the startup electric truck stole last year’s LA Auto Show.

They’ve also moved some combustion engine investment into electric cars, though their investments are still majority-combustion. So they’re not quite “all in” yet, at least not as far as, say, Daimler, who recently announced that they would stop developing internal combustion entirely.

Ford also agreed with California (along with BMW, Honda, and VW) earlier this year to voluntarily meet higher emissions standards in the face of federal efficiency rollbacks. Much of the rest of the industry, including GM, FCA, and Toyota, recently came down on the side of more pollution.

And the F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in America, which means an electric version is a big deal toward EV sales and public perception of electric vehicles.

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Avatar for Jameson Dow Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for since 2016.

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