Ford Motor Company is investing $1 billion in Chicago Assembly and Stamping Plants and adding 500 new jobs as it prepares to launch three new SUVs that go on sale later this year. The renovation at the plants beginning in March, will expand capacity to produce the new Ford Explorer – including the Explorer ST and Explorer Hybrid – the new Police Interceptor Utility and the new Lincoln Aviator. The work will be completed in the spring. The additional 500 full-time jobs bring total employment at the two plants to ~5,800.
Ford was the No. 1 producer of vehicles in the U.S. and the leading exporter of vehicles from the U.S., building nearly 2.4 million in 2018, Ford says it employs the most hourly U.S. autoworkers.
Ford is building an all-new body shop and paint shop at Chicago Assembly, and making major modifications to the final assembly area. At Chicago Stamping, the company is adding new stamping lines in preparation for the 2020 Explorer, Interceptor and Aviator models.
Advanced manufacturing technologies at the plants include a “collaborative robot with a camera that inspects electrical connections during the manufacturing process.” In addition, several 3D printed tools will be installed to help employees build the vehicles.
“We are proud to be America’s top producer of automobiles. We are furthering our commitment to America with this billion-dollar manufacturing investment in Chicago and 500 more good-paying jobs,” said Joe Hinrichs, president, Global Operations at press preview for the Chicago Auto show, which opens to the public tonight. “We reinvented the Explorer from the ground up, and this investment will further strengthen Ford’s SUV market leadership.”
Employee-related improvements to make the plant a better place to work total $40 million and include all-new LED lighting, cafeteria updates, new break areas, and security upgrades in the parking lot. The company’s investment is supported by Ford’s partnership with the UAW, along with federal, state, county and local governments who are spending taxpayer money or using taxpayer resources to help Ford.
“As Chicago continues to strengthen our diverse economy, Ford’s commitment to add 500 jobs and infuse nearly a billion dollars into their Southeast Side assembly plant is a vote of confidence in our people and our future,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Chicago Assembly, located on the city’s south side, is Ford’s longest continually operating vehicle assembly plan. The factory started producing the Model T in 1924 and was converted to war production during World War II.