Call it clever strategy or just a sign of the times, but Ford's doing a 180-degree turn and spending more than half a billion dollars to retool its Michigan Truck plant to produce the next-generation 2011 Ford Focus and the 2012 Focus EV.
Ford is already ahead of the PR curve--and your car-shopper confidence--since it's been the only domestic automaker to steer clear of financial ruin this year. With its announcement today, Ford's hoping to keep its green-car image growing as it de-emphasizes big trucks and adds more small cars to its lineup.
The transformation of the factory near Dearborn, Michigan, will end production of the big Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator at the factory. The new Focus enters production next year; it's developed from the same architecture that will replace Ford's European Focus (shown above). The Focus EV--which our High Gear Media BFF John Voelcker drove last month--makes its debut in 2011.
Ford is also converting other plants from truck production to small cars, namely, in Mexico and Louisville, Kentucky. The Louisville plant is slated to build derivatives of the Focus, which probably means a small SUV spun from the same parts bin and possibly replacing the Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner and Mazda Tribute, along with hybrid versions of those crossovers.
Ford's also planning a "next-generation" hybrid and a plug-in hybrid for 2012.
For more on the Focus EV and other green efforts, take a spin by our High Gear Media partner sites, GreenCarReports.com and AllCarsElectric.com.