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Ford stages a homecoming — and brings the future to Detroit

Lulu Chang
Ford Detroit

Ford is going home, and taking the future with it. This week, the automaker announced plans to move its self-driving and electric vehicle units to its hometown of Detroit. The business and strategy teams for both divisions of the company will be relocated to the Michigan metropolis.

A large swath of Ford employees, including those associated with electric vehicle strategy group Team Edison, will soon be housed in a 45,000 square foot former factory; fitting, given the teams’ collective missions. Indeed, Ford noted in a release, the move “brings together Ford teams that are creating new business models in a resurgent, diverse neighborhood with industrial roots.” Located in Corktown, the new Ford location is slated to begin operations early in 2018, and will allow folks working on autonomous and EV technology to test their new developments in an urban environment.

“We’re excited to choose this inspirational location in one of Detroit’s resurgent neighborhoods to accelerate our work on electric and autonomous vehicles,” said Ford president and CEO Jim Hackett. “This move and our exciting Dearborn campus transformation are important steps as we move toward our aspiration to become the world’s most trusted mobility company – designing smart vehicles for a smart world.”

Ford is casting the decision to move two of its most innovative teams as a highly strategic one. Given that both units are focused on addressing mobility challenges including congestion, pollution, accidents, and other transportation headaches, it’s crucial that they be located in an area where these challenges exist (but can be solved). More than 220 employees will be relocated to the new Corktown office.

The new location will likely be the birthplace of Ford’s first autonomous vehicle, slated to make its debut in 2021. Not only will the car drive itself, but it’ll also be of the hybrid-electric variety, which makes the decision to bring the autonomous and electric vehicle teams together all the wiser.

“Having these teams together in a dedicated facility in the heart of Detroit is truly a full-circle moment for Ford,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president and president, global markets. “It’s such a conducive environment for sharing ideas, for collaboration, and for accelerating our electric vehicle efforts. We have such a great team, and we’ll be hearing more from them in the coming months.”