Ford Motor Company has always been an innovator. Henry Ford was the first to introduce the concepts and practices for a large-scale vehicle assembly plant, many of which are still used today. “Fordism” as it was called in 1913, expanded to a worldwide concept in less than a year. 100 years later, Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP) is the site of another innovation in automotive assembly with the creation of a “flexible” assembly plant. Ford Motor Company’s “flexible” assembly plant is destined to be another first that influences the entire automotive industry.
What exactly is a “flexible” assembly plant? It is a plant that features assembly lines capable of producing more than one type of the same component. In the case of the MAP, one assembly line is capable of building five different powertrains for some of Ford’s most fuel-efficient vehicles. With Ford continually setting its sights on producing more vehicles with an MPG of 40 miles per gallon and over, the ability to build them quicker and more efficiently will not only help them save money in expenses and lost time, but also be able to provide more vehicles to fit consumer demand. The typical assembly plant has to be shut down and equipment changed when switching between models, which can lead to shut downs for up to a few weeks. The ability to only produce one vehicle at a time and needing to shut down in between vehicle production can lead to loss of time and revenue. The “flexible” assembly plant allows five different powertrains to be built at one time, eliminating the need for costly shut downs to switch equipment.
This whole concept is just part of Ford Motor Company’s “One Ford” plan that they are continually striving to achieve. The One Ford plan involves creating assembly plants that produce multiple components, and producing a range of vehicles that fit any need their customers may have. It also means that more vehicles will be built in the U.S. with the capabilities of the “flexible” assembly plant. This means that more U.S. jobs will be created and the number and variety of Ford vehicles will increase. With Ford setting a minimum goal of eight vehicles with 40 MPG or more, the ability to build them more efficiently gives them more of an opportunity to introduce new models while also building more alternate fuel vehicles.
The MAP facility will be responsible for building powertrains for the C-MAX Energi and Hybrid, the Focus Electric, Focus ST and Focus SE with the Super Fuel Economy package. The C-MAX Energi has recently been named the most fuel-efficient and affordable plug-in hybrid. The C-MAX hybrid set a new MPG standard by offering a combined EPA certified 47 MPG. With one of the biggest concerns for hybrid buyers being the price of the vehicle, the C-MAX will provide hybrid functionality at a very affordable price. The Focus Electric, although currently only available in limited markets, will increase in production based on its popularity. While EV-certified Ford dealers can only sell it, right now they are not as visible as they could be. Once more Ford dealers become EV-certified, expect to see more of the Focus Electric. The Focus ST is powered by the all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine and has earned and EPA certified 32 highway MPG. The Focus SE equipped with the SFE has been given and EPA certified 28 MPG city/40 highway. While the Focus SE will be the first to receive this package, expect to see it on many more models over the next year.
Although the concept for the “flexible” assembly plant was created in 2008 by Ford’s Manufacturing and Product Development teams, the continuous advancements in technology led to four years of hard work on the final product. The MAP facility is a first, but Ford is sure that it will do everything they intended, and has created 1,200 much needed jobs in the area. Valley Ford is proud to feature some of Ford’s most fuel-efficient vehicles including the C-MAX, Fiesta and Focus SE. You can browse our complete inventory of new vehicles at www.FordofHanford.com. If you have any questions while you are browsing, simply click the chat button to be connected with one of Valley Ford’s experienced staff. If you are looking for a fuel-efficient and sporty vehicle, let Valley Ford help you find just the right one for you!