Ford Motor Co. will spend $550 million retooling a former SUV plant to build electric and next-generation versions of its compact Ford Focus.

The company’s new Ford Focus will roll off the line of Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant next year, while the battery-electric version of the Focus will debut in 2011. It will be the first all-electric vehicle for Ford.

Formerly known as Ford’s Michigan Truck Plant, the facility, which once produced the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, was considered one of the industry’s most profitable during the SUV heydey. Operations from Ford’s Wayne Assembly Plant will be consolidated as part of the move.

Former Michigan Truck Plant
All images courtesy of Ford
“We’re changing from a company focused mainly on trucks and SUVs to a company with a balanced product lineup that includes even more high-quality, fuel-efficient small cars, hybrids and all-electric vehicles,” Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas, said in a statement Wednesday.
Final Ford Expedition rolls off line at Michigan Truck Plant in November 2008
All images courtesy of Ford


It is one of three former truck plants being transformed in coming years and will employ 3,200 workers when production of the Ford Focus line begins next year.

Other former truck and SUV plants under conversion include Ford’s Cuautitlan Assembly in Mexico, which will produce the Fiesta subcompact beginning in 2010, and its Louisville, Ky., facility, which will build other models that are part of Ford’s global Focus platform.

Ford is partnering with Magna International to develop the battery-electric Focus and will work with Smith Electric to market a battery-electric commercial vehicle in North America next year. Ford also plans to release a next-generation hybrid vehicle and plug-in hybrid, both in 2012.

Ford received more than $160 million in tax credits and credits from the state of Michigan, Wayne County and the city of Wayne for the expansion project.

Images provided by Ford Motor Co.