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Here's what the Ford-UAW contract reveals about products on the way

Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press

The assembly plants building some of Ford’s best-selling and most profitable vehicles will become a beehive of electric-vehicle and hybrid activity over the next four years. At the same time, new versions of the sporty Mustang are on tap for the plant south of Detroit building Ford’s pony car.

Those are just three of the promises we found in the new four-year labor contract Ford workers recently voted on. The analysis in this column is based on reporting by my colleagues Phoebe Wall Howard, Jamie L. Lareau and Eric D. Lawrence on detailed investment plans in Ford’s new contract with the UAW

Ford will build a new version of the F-150 Raptor at its Rouge assembly plant.

The contract was expected to be ratified Friday and is to expire in September 2023.

Among the headlines from the contract:

  • Electric and hybrid versions of the new F-150 pickup
  • A new F-150 Raptor
  • Hybrids and other updates to the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition large SUVs
  • Production of batteries and electric drivetrains at multiple plants
  • A new version of the Ranger midsize pickup

Ford’s increasing emphasis on electric vehicles becomes even more evident when you look at drivetrain investment. The contract includes several new programs for batteries, electric transmissions and motors.

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Here’s a look at some of what’s coming at Ford plants around the country:

Dearborn, Mich. truck plant

Commonly called the Rouge plant, because it neighbors the Rouge River, expect Dearborn to be the launch plant for an all-new F-150, with production probably beginning in 2020.

The lineup will include an all-electric F-150, probably in 2021. A hybrid is expected to go on sale in 2020. The plant will also build batteries for the electric pickup.

The Rouge will also build a new version of the Raptor off-road sport truck. The new F-150 will continue to use the aluminum body the current model pioneered.

Total investment: $700 million

Flat Rock

This plant just south of Detroit will build a new version of the Mustang, including several derivatives, probably including specialty models like the Bullitt and Shelby Cobra, in addition to Mustang coupes and convertibles.

Flat Rock will have room to add models since production of the Lincoln Continental luxury sedan it currently builds is expected to end during the run of the current contract.

We don’t know whether Ford’s decision to use the Mustang name for its upcoming Mach-E electric SUV opens the door for other body styles using the Mustang name. The Mustang Mach-E is not expected to be built in Flat Rock.

Investment to build a new Mustang at Ford's Flat Rock assembly plant is part of the company's contract with the UAW.

Total investment: $250 million

Kansas City

Ford’s highest output assembly plant will begin building an electric version of the Transit commercial vans it already builds. That’s the full-size, UPS-style Transit, not the smaller Transit Connect often used by small businesses.

KC will also build the next generation of the F-150, but not its hybrid or electric versions.

Total investment: $400 million

Kentucky Truck

This massive plant east of Louisville will build new versions of the F-series Super Duty pickups, workhorses that generate huge profits for Ford.

Speaking of huge, the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition Kentucky also builds — currently featured in commercials hauling a two-horse trailer and carrying eight people — are in line for hybrid versions and other significant new upgrades.

Total investment: $1 billion

Michigan Assembly

Located on Michigan Avenue in Wayne, Michigan, just a few miles west of Ford company HQ, this plant is the investment leader among Ford’s U.S. plants.

Production of the eagerly awaited Bronco SUV begins early in 2020. Details are scarce, but the contract says Wayne will assemble “swinggates” for the Bronco. That means that, like the Jeep Wrangler, Ford’s off road-oriented SUV will have a rear gate that’s hinged at the side rather than opening down like a pickup or up like a minivan.

A new version of the Ford Ranger midsize pickup is expected to come from the Wayne assembly plant in 2022.

In another surprise, an all-new version of the Ranger is expected as soon as 2022, despite the fact that the midsize pickup just went on sale this year.

The current Ranger is based on an architecture Ford’s been building in other parts of the world for several years. That means the life cycle of the U.S. Ranger will be shorter than the usual six to eight years.

Wayne’s a jack of all trades. It will make body stampings for the new Mustang, customize Rangers and Broncos and modify some Ford vehicles for autonomous, driver-free operation.

Total investment: $1.1 billion

Ohio Assembly

Ford made news when it moved production of some medium-duty commercial trucks from Mexico to this plant in Avon Lake, Ohio. The new contract will see it build new versions of the F-series chassis cab trucks it already makes and add a new vehicle in 2023.

Total investment: $900 million

Suppliers

Ford’s move into electric vehicles will bring new business to many of its component plants in southeast Michigan, including:

  • Livonia: A new transmission for EVs
  • Van Dyke: Electric vehicle motors and transaxles
  • Rawsonville: Batteries for hybrid vehicles

Existing transmissions and engines are also in line for investment, but the amount going into traditional drivetrains is falling as electric power takes a larger role in Ford’s future.

Contact Mark Phelan: 313-222-6731 or  mmphelan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Read more on autos and sign up for our autos newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ford-UAW contract: Here are clues to products to come