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Ford Will Build All Four Focuses in Michigan Assembly Plant

Ford invited the media out to its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne to show off the new facility that will build gas, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric versions of the 2012 Ford Focus. It will be the first automotive plant in the world, according to Ford president of the Americas Mark Fields, to build one car with four different powertrains.

Production of the all-new global Ford Focus, in four-door and five-door versions, is under way with sales to begin early next year. The Focus Electric battery electric vehicle goes into production late next year followed by a new hybrid and plug-in hybrid in late 2012.

A tour of the plant revealed a lot of emphasis on quality control with assurances that no vehicle will leave the line if any glitches are perceived. The plant, which used to build Expeditions and Navigators, has been pretty much retooled from the ground up for the Focus, which Ford hopes to sell a ton of because the C-class is the hottest segment in the market right now – and the segment most likely to attract young, first-time buyers that Ford hopes it can capture for a lifetime of automotive purchases.

The picture accompanying this article shows a new Focus being dropped on the line for the first time with tires on it. The black object on the left side of the photo that looks like an oversized car speaker actually engages the tire pressure monitoring system. It tells the quality control system at the plant if the tires are not inflated properly and red flags the vehicle for an instant quality check if the numbers are found lacking.

Here are some of the details of the plant as outlined by Ford. By the way, if you ever have the opportunity, tour an automotive plant. They are fascinating places to visit and it makes you appreciate how difficult it can be to manufacturer an automobile.

  • A new three-wet paint booth utilizes 66 paint robots with seven axis of movement to precisely apply paint to the cars.
  • In the body shop, 500 new robots capable of 4,000 welds per vehicle add to the plant’s flexibility.
  • A new internal communications system flashes updates and information to the plant’s 3,200 employees via 163 monitor screens distributed throughout the plant.
  • At 1.2 million square feet – about the size of 22 football fields – the plant becomes Ford’s most flexible, high-volume and modern manufacturing facility in its global operations.
  • Ford is teaming with Detroit Edison and Xtreme Power to install the 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic panel system. The system will be integrated with a 750-kilowatt energy storage facility that can store 2 million watt-hours of energy using batteries – enough to power 100 average Michigan homes for a year.