Ford's most flexible factory rolls out plug-in hybrid

8 November 2012
By Bryan Betts
Mobile version
Share |
Ford Cmax Energi

Ford Cmax Energi

A former SUV factory in Michigan is now one of the world's most versatile auto assembly plants, according to Ford.

The carmaker said that with its first plug-in hybrid car, the C-Max Energi, in full production, its rebuilt Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP) is the world's only plant to build petrol-powered, electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles all on the same production line, and the only one to produce four vehicles delivering 40mpg (48mpg UK) or more in real-world driving.

Indeed, the C-Max Energi is rated as delivering 108MPGe (130mpg UK, 2.2l/100km) on a city driving cycle. Ford claimed this made it “America's most fuel-efficient and affordable plug-in hybrid vehicle”, eclipsing its great rival, the Toyota Prius plug-in.

Making MAP this flexible has taken an investment of $550m over four years, Ford said. During that time, its manufacturing and product development teams have worked together to create product platform designs that enable the use of programmable equipment to produce multiple variations of products in one facility. Today, more than 80 per cent of the tooling in the plant's body shop can be programmed to weld a variety of body styles. This allows Ford to quickly adjust the mix between models as customer preferences change.

The company's engineers also collaborated with UAW union representatives, for example to design job stations in the final assembly area that can be adapted to different kinds of work content, depending on the vehicle. So even though C-Max vehicles have 1,074 parts that differ from the Focus, both vehicles travel through nearly all of the same 604 workstations in the trim and chassis areas.

Several workstations play key roles in the plant's ability to build both electrified and gasoline-powered cars. At one chassis station, workers have plastic fuel tanks on one side of the line and electric chargers on the other. Depending on the build sequence, they install either a charger in a Focus battery-electric vehicle (BEV), or a fuel tank in a C-Max or petrol-powered Focus.

Similarly, multiple stations in the trim area have been reconfigured so that the work team has a longer time window for the complex functions of installing the high-voltage wiring and battery into a C-Max or Focus BEV, while being given quicker tasks to perform when petrol-powered Focus cars come down the line.

"Michigan Assembly Plant is setting a new global standard for flexible manufacturing, and is a central part of Ford's important milestone, sweeping Toyota across the board for fuel economy leadership," said Jim Tetreault, Ford vice president of North America Manufacturing.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1605

"We visit Barcelona, one of the smartest cities in the world, to find out what makes it so special. What does it look like and what is the future?"

E&T jobs

  • High Voltage Engineer

    Premium job

    Essex X-Ray & Medical Equipment
    • Great Dunmow, Essex

    This High Voltage Engineer will provide design leadership for high voltage cable assemblies up to one megavolt.

    • Recruiter: Essex X-Ray & Medical Equipment

    Apply for this job

  • Sales Electronics Engineer

    Premium job

    Precision Microdrives
    • London (Greater)
    • £25,000 - £30,000 starting salary, inclusive of on-target commissions.

    Precision Microdrives (PMD) is a fast growing technology company that designs, produces and trades miniature electro-mechanical mechanisms

    • Recruiter: Precision Microdrives

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Development Engineer, Electronics

    Premium job

    Helmet Integrated Systems / Gentex Corporation
    • Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire
    • Competitive

    We are innovative, robust and fast growing business, whose main focus is to deliver continues improvement to existing products and offer new soluti...

    • Recruiter: Helmet Integrated Systems / Gentex Corporation

    Apply for this job

  • Analogue Electronics Engineer

    Premium job

    Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF)
    • Uppsala (Stad) (SE)

    The Swedish Institute of Space Institute (IRF) in Uppsala search for an analogue electronics engineer.

    • Recruiter: Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF)

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Robotic Systems Engineer

    Premium job

    National Oceanographic Centre
    • Southampton, Hampshire
    • £45,271 to £49,207 per annum

    Responsible for technical oversight and project management of internally and externally funded innovation centre projects.

    • Recruiter: National Oceanographic Centre

    Apply for this job

  • Smart Grid Research Engineer

    Premium job

    University of Strathclyde
    • Cumbernauld, Glasgow
    • Grade: 6/7* £26,537 - £37,768*

    Work as part of a growing dynamic team on a wide range of technical projects with particular emphasis on experimental validation and testing

    • Recruiter: University of Strathclyde

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Engineer - Water

    Premium job

    Mott MacDonald
    • Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

    Mott MacDonald's highly successful Water and Environment Unit is recruiting an electrical engineer....

    • Recruiter: Mott MacDonald

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Design Engineer

    Premium job

    Mott MacDonald
    • Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

    Mott MacDonald's highly successful water business continues to win and deliver a fantastic amount of work....

    • Recruiter: Mott MacDonald

    Apply for this job

  • Launcher Verication & Validation Lead

    MBDA
    • Bristol
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What’s the opportunity? Opportunity to join a very dynamic, responsive and multinational Launcher team, focussed on rapid development, proving and manufacture to meet challenging programme...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Technical Design Authority - Marine Systems (Mechanical)

    BAE Systems
    • Scotland, Glasgow
    • Negotiable

    Technical Design Authority - Marine Systems (Mechanical) Would you like to play an exciting and varied role working with the River Class Batch 2 (RCB2) vessels for the Royal Navy? We currently have a vacancy for a Technical Design Authority - Marine Syste

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T