Oct. 7, 2013, marks the 100th anniversary of Henry Ford’s revolutionary automotive moving assembly line. Considering the history of Michigan Assembly Plant, it’s fitting that Ford Motor Company selected the facility to host a major media event commemorating the occasion. The former station wagon body plant turned truck and SUV plant, is a model of modern automotive manufacturing flexibility. Now one of eight Ford global sources of the Focus compact car, Michigan Assembly is the only plant in the world that produces vehicles with five different fuel-efficient powertrains on the same assembly line, including full battery-electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid.
Below is a brief history of Michigan Assembly Plant and its products.
From 1947 to 1956, there was an incredible 760-percent rise in Mercury station wagon sales, prompting Ford to build a new plant right next door the Wayne Assembly Plant —the Michigan Mercury Station Wagon Plant. At the time, it was the only plant of its kind to contain complete body, paint, and trim shops. The facility produced station wagon bodies for Wayne Assembly and Mercury plants located in New Jersey, St. Louis and Los Angeles. The product continued until 1959 when the facility served as a warehouse.
In 1964, the warehouse emerged as the Michigan Truck Plant (MTP) and stepped into the business of assembling F-Series pickups. The following year, MTP celebrated production of its 100,000th F-Series and added the Ford Bronco to its product portfolio.
In 1993, a $189 million state-of-the-art paint facility was added to the Michigan Truck Plant. Then in 1995, this location became the first assembly plant in Ford Motor Company to introduce a three-crew operating pattern, allowing the plant to run seven days per week and increase build capacity by 20 percent.
In June of 1996, MTP ended 30 years of Bronco production after building 1,152,890 units. The move paved the way for a new product to be built at the plant – the Ford Expedition full-size SUV. In May of 1997, plant employees produced the last F-Series truck, ending a 33-year run of Ford’s popular workhorse at MTP. In its place, the plant began producing the Lincoln Navigator – the first full-size SUV to carry the Lincoln nameplate.
As demand for large SUVs declined, Ford announced in August of 2008 that it would idle the Michigan Truck Plant. In a subsequent announcement, the company revealed plans to invest $550 million in the facility to convert it for production of a small, fuel-efficient car – the next-generation, global Ford Focus. The last Expedition rolled off the line on Nov. 26, 2008, and assembly of the Expedition and Navigator was moved to Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant near Louisville.
The transformation of the former Michigan Truck Plant was complete when the facility began production of the all-new, global Ford Focus in January of 2011 as the new Michigan Assembly Plant. One year later, Michigan Assembly added production of the Focus ST performance car, the Focus Electric battery-powered vehicle, the C-MAX Hybrid and the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid as well as a third production crew.