Ford is officially building a new plant in Michigan aimed at its line-up of next-generation hybrid cars that could one day drive themselves.
The news comes after Alphabet-owned Waymo got approval to open an autonomous vehicle factory in the state in January — another sign that carmakers are refusing to let gloomy public perception stop the march to self-driving vehicles.
“This facility will be about more than just putting the brains into these autonomous vehicles,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations in a statement. “We will use the AV production center to upgrade the interiors and add the technology customers will want for a particular self-driving model.”
The news also comes after General Motors laid off 15 percent of its salaried workers and closed five entire auto plants — including one in Michigan — in the U.S. and Canada in November.
Ford is planning to start working on its first-ever autonomous vehicle in 2021.
The plant is also part of Ford’s massive $11.1 billion investment in global electric vehicles.
The move signifies Ford’s commitment to the future of the electric car — and self-driving car technology. “We see more consumers interested in electric vehicles,” said Hinrichs. “Plus the capabilities of the batteries and the technology is getting better.”
READ MORE: Ford to build new factory in Michigan for autonomous vehicles [CNBC]
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