- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 7, 2009

WAYNE, Mich. (AP) | Ford Motor Co. stripped the word “truck” from the name of one of its Detroit-area plants Wednesday as it announced plans to build its next-generation Focus here, including a battery-electric version that Ford expects will go up to 100 miles without using gasoline or emitting greenhouse gas.

While Chrysler LLC sells its assets in a New York bankruptcy court, and General Motors Corp. works round- the-clock on ways to cut labor costs and debt before a government-imposed deadline, Chairman William C. “Bill” Ford Jr. and CEO Alan Mulally announced plans to invest $550 million to retool the Michigan truck plant so it can make small cars to sell worldwide.

Mr. Mulally said that the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker would build more than 2 million vehicles per year on its small C-car platform globally.

Mr. Ford and Mr. Mulally were heard by a gathering of 500 employees, reporters and state officials, including Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm.

The retooled facility, which once built hefty sport utility vehicles like the Lincoln Navigator and is now called the Michigan Assembly Plant, will build Ford’s next-generation Focus, expected to roll off the line next year.

The plant will also build a new battery-electric version of the Focus for the North American market in conjunction with battery-maker Magna. That vehicle is expected to debut in 2011.

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