Ford will invest $50 million into its Chicago Assembly Plant in a move that will benefit workers and help with the production of hybrid models.
Auto News reports that the Dearborn car manufacturer will convert a current modification center near its Chicago Assembly Plant into a site to handle final assembly of the electrified versions of its Explorer and Lincoln Aviator crossovers as part of the investment.
This modification center previously handled Ford’s Police Interceptors but work on these vehicles will now be moved to a different building. This will allow Ford to free the main line at its Chicago site for gasoline variants of the two vehicles.
Under this move, Explorer and Aviator hybrid bodies will be shipped from the main assembly plant to the modification center and undergo final assembly. The vehicles will then be shipped back to the assembly plant’s customer acceptance line for a final check.
In addition, Ford will convert 450 temporary UAW union workers to full-time at its Chicago Assembly Plant and Chicago Stamping Plant. Ford’s president of automotive, Joe Hinrichs, says this will allow the car manufacturer to make up some production lost due to the launch curve of new models. It could also result in a boost in production in 2020.
The Ford Explorer Hybrid is powered by a 3.3-liter naturally-aspirated V6 engine paired with an electric motor and a 10-speed automatic transmission. It pumps out 318 hp and 322 lb-ft (436 Nm) of torque. By comparison, the Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring supports a plug-in hybrid system which includes a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 and a 10-speed transmission. It has 450 hp and 600 lb-ft (813 Nm) of torque.