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Ford invests $200mn in data centre for autonomous vehicles

Wed 29 Mar 2017

Ford Mustang

Ford Motors is planning to build a new $200 million data centre (approx. £161 million) at its Flat Rock campus in Michigan this summer.

The investment comes as the U.S. car giant pushes further into the development of new smart mobility services and connected vehicles.

The announcement was made as part of Ford’s plans to funnel $1.2 billion into the Michigan region. This boost includes work on improving its assembly plant facilities in Wayne for an estimated $850 million, and a $150 million expansion of production capacity at its Romeo Engine Plant.

President Trump commented on the news via Twitter. ‘Big announcement by Ford today,’ he wrote. ‘Major investment to be made in three Michigan plants. Car companies coming back to U.S. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!’

However, in the official Ford announcement, the only reference to additional jobs was with the Romeo scheme which will ‘create of retain’ 130 jobs.

The announcement builds on promises outlined in the 2015 United Auto Workers contract negotiations which took place in 2015. The contracts called for, among other demands, $700 million to be invested at the Michigan Assembly Plant and for $150 million at Romeo. The data centre project at Flat Rock was not included in the contract.

According to Ford spokesman Kelli Felker, the company’s new data centre – its second in Michigan – will be located at the Flat Rock Plant due to the site’s key role in the firm’s push towards high-tech electrified and autonomous vehicles.

Ford predicts that its future data usage will increase by 1000%, driven not only by self-driving technologies and electric vehicles but also by advanced manufacturing and business needs.

Commenting on the announcement UAW-Ford VP Jimmy Settles said that the group was proud of the investments, which he expects will ‘lead to stronger job security for… members and continued support for the surrounding communities.’

He added: ‘Thanks to collective bargaining, the hard-working men and women at each of these locations will now reap the full fruits of their labor. We look forward to celebrating more product investment and job growth at each of our UAW-represented facilities in the months and years to come…’

Construction at Ford’s data centre facility in Dearborn, Michigan, began in October last year.


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