Ford has great news for Chicagoans as the automaker has announced investments of $1 billion for the Chicago Assembly and Stamping Plants and the addition of 500 jobs.
Capacity will be expanded for the production of the 2020 Explorer (including the Explorer ST and Explorer Hybrid), Police Interceptor Utility, and Lincoln Aviator. The announcement has been made at the Chicago Auto Show by Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Global Operations in the presence of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Ford says the new investments will go toward an all-new body shop and paint shop at Chicago Assembly, as well as major modifications to the final assembly area. The company will also add all-new stamping lines at the Chicago Stamping facility.
The automaker will then implement advanced manufacturing technologies at the plants, including a collaborative robot with a camera that inspects electrical connections during the manufacturing process. Additionally, several 3D printed tools will be installed “to help employees build these vehicles with even higher quality for customers.”
Finally, $40 million of the announced investment will be spent to make the Chicago Assembly and Stamping better places to work. Ford aims to accomplish that by adding new LED lighting and cafeteria updates, new break areas, and parking lot security upgrades.
The transformation of the Chicago plant will begin in March as Ford is preparing to launch these new SUVs later this year. Work is expected to be completed in the spring. The additional 500 full-time jobs will bring total employment at the two Chicago plants to approximately 5,800.
“We are proud to be America’s top producer of automobiles. Today, we are furthering our commitment to America with this billion dollar manufacturing investment in Chicago and 500 more good-paying jobs,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford Global Operations president, at the Chicago Auto Show. “We reinvented the Explorer from the ground up, and this investment will further strengthen Ford’s SUV market leadership,” the executive added.
Chicago Assembly is Ford’s longest continually operating vehicle assembly plant. It started producing the Model T in 1924 and was converted to war production during World War II.