Car Industry

Ford will spend $50M upgrading Chicago plant for hybrid SUVs

The investment will also create 450 full-time jobs.

As I learned firsthand, the hybrid system in the new Police Interceptor Utility provides a fair amount of hustle.

Ford

Ford Motor Company has a host of new hybrid SUVs on its hands. Given the ever-growing demand for SUVs, it's probably safe to say that folks will have quite the appetite for cars like the Ford Explorer Hybrid and the Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring, which they might find pursued by the automaker's new hybrid utility police vehicle. To accommodate all that flashy new stuff, Ford's dumping some serious money into its manufacturing.

Ford announced this week that it plans to spend $50 million upgrading a facility near its Chicago Assembly Plant. Currently, the facility is used to modify Explorers into Police Interceptor Utility vehicles, but it will soon turn into a full-fledged facility where painted bodies from the Chicago Assembly Plant will be put together. In addition to the Police Interceptor Utility, Ford will use this upgraded building to help put together the new Explorer Hybrid and Aviator Grand Touring PHEV.

The move will turn 450 temporary gigs into full-time jobs, and Ford will hire more temp workers beyond that. As for the Police Interceptor Utility modifications, those will take place at another nearby facility, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Both the Explorer Hybrid and Police Interceptor Utility sport a traditional hybrid-electric powertrain. It combines a 3.3-liter V6, a 1.5-kWh battery and a 35-kW electric motor to produce a net 318 horsepower and 322 pound-feet of torque, which can be sent to either the rear wheels or all four. The Police Interceptor Utility's hybrid system adds about $3,500 to the cop car's bottom line, but Ford estimates that a department can make that money back through one year's worth of fuel savings.

The Aviator Grand Touring is a bit more hardcore. It uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain with a bigger battery and a more powerful electric motor. Combined with a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6, the whole shebang puts out 450 hp and 600 lb-ft. Unlike the Explorer Hybrid, which operates with efficiency in mind at all times, the Aviator Grand Touring will have multiple modes that can allow it to run on electricity alone or save that battery juice until it can be better utilized.

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