Dozens of companies in California reportedly now test cars without a driver, with Samsung being the last corporation to obtain permission from the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Ford Motor Co. is making an unexpected pivot in announcing plans to build electric vehicles in Mexico and saying it will renovate a plant in the Detroit area for the future production of its first vehicle autonomous in Michigan.

The Flat Rock plant had been designated for EV Alan Hall, spokesman for Ford, said the latest plan will result in hundreds of more jobs at the Michigan plant.

The UAW told Free Press on Thursday that Ford's most recent decision to do EV in Mexico will not affect jobs in the home because the union already negotiated future labor commitments.

"During the 2015 negotiations with Ford Motor Company, we secured a significant investment of products for our members in the Flat Rock Assembly Plant and other manufacturing facilities in the US," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles . "Ford's announcement yesterday of expanding the production of autonomous vehicles in Flat Rock and moving a low-volume electric SUV to Mexico does not affect our jobs or our economic investment commitments."

The union represents 59,000 Ford workers.

"We are confident that the decision to expand autonomous production at Flat Rock will provide additional job security for our current members and create additional employment opportunities for those in the surrounding communities," Settles said. "This move also gives us a safer base today and we move forward with the autonomous manufacturing of vehicles in facilities represented by UAW."

While the UAW is never enchanted with manufacturing across the border, officials point out that small car production is already taking place south of the border due to cost issues.

Jim Farley, president of global markets at Ford, was quoted as saying that the decision shows the beginning of "the basis of Ford's bet on AV (autonomous driving vehicles) .We are very excited about what we are doing."

Farley told the Wall Street Journal that the move will make Flat Rock the "center of excellence" for future driverless vehicles.

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Earlier this year, in response to criticism from President Donald Trump, Ford doubled its commitment to maintaining Michigan jobs.

Some observers wondered why Mexico's announcement was not made in October, when Ford CEO Jim Hackett met with investors.

"This is all a bit strange," said Dave Sullivan, product analysis manager at AutoPacific Inc. "Was the original Flat Rock ad just an insult to the president?"

"Ford's plans seem to be a little scattered these days, "he said." It was not so long ago that Ford canceled plans to build a plant in Mexico. This is like musical plant chairs. I mean, they started building in Mexico and they had to pay money to get out of contracts. Now we are back. Do cars in Mexico? It's a bit disconcerting to look from the outside to see how many planned and unplanned announcements come out of Ford this week. It seems a bit chaotic there. "

News of the change of plans: which includes an additional investment of $ 200 million in Flat Rock – was first reported by the Wall Street Journal while Ford officials go through China. that the vehicle to be built in Michigan is a completely new model for Ford, a stand-alone electric hybrid vehicle.

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard: 313-222-6512 or Follow her on Twitter: @phoebesaid [19659008]

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