Car Industry

Ford finds the future of driving in Detroit

Ford is setting its EV and autonomous vehicle teams up in Detroit's hippest neighborhood.

Ford

Ford is bringing its electric and autonomous vehicle business and strategy teams home to Michigan to help make the motor city a technological hub once again.

To those of us outside of Detroit, hearing that Ford is bringing several of its key teams in its most technologically advanced and forward-looking divisions to Detroit seems smart. To people in Detroit, it means a lot more than that. 

Ford recently chose its Flat Rock manufacturing facility to become its autonomous vehicle production hub, and this most recent announcement further signifies that Ford is betting big on its hometown as being the tip of the spear for self-driving car development, though these developments won't affect the company's presence in Silicon Valley.

"Returning to Detroit is particularly meaningful, because it is where my great-grandfather originally set out to pursue his passion and where we have always called our home," said Bill Ford, executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, in a statement. "We are planting a special piece of our company's future in one of the city's great neighborhoods, because we believe in Detroit, its people and what we can build together.

Ford will locate its autonomous vehicle and electric vehicle business and strategy teams, including Team Edison, in a 45,000-square-foot historic former factory in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood; the relocation brings together Ford teams that are creating new business models in a resurgent, diverse neighborhood with industrial roots.

Rather than shoving the autonomous vehicle and electric vehicle business and strategy teams, including its Team Edison group, into a deep dark basement somewhere in Dearborn -- where the bulk of the teams moving into this new space are coming from -- the blue oval is installing them into a 45,000-square-foot renovated factory space in Detroit's historic Corktown neighborhood.

Corktown is one of the hippest and most vibrant neighborhoods in the continually beleaguered city and is seen as a great example of Detroit's potential if things start to turn around. Instead of burned-out cars and shattered glass, Corktown offers a seriously good BBQ joint and several excellent cocktail bars. These new, young Ford teams should fit right in and hopefully, this is the start of a trend by all of the Big Three that will bring the industry's best and brightest talent back to the spiritual home of automobiles in America.