Ford Motor Co. is beginning its new chapter in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood.
The Dearborn-based automaker has begun moving about 200 employees to a refurbished hosiery factory in Detroit.
It’s the first step in what may become a much larger, consolidated urban campus housing the automaker’s electric and autonomous vehicle and mobility operations.
Word is an announcement is coming in mid-June about the purchase of the long-empty and blighted Michigan Central Station. No deal has been struck yet, however.
The goal is to expose employees to the mobility challenges of an urban environment so they can identify problems and devise solutions to aid in mobility and the development of electric and self-driving vehicles. Ford’s Dearborn campus is decidedly suburban in design and layout, the reverse of the major cities where Ford’s new products will be used.
Talent attraction has been a problem for Ford. Young talent is leery of working in suburban office settings to the organization. The 45,000-square-foot building has been renovated to feature rolling desks and customizable work spaces.
The move back to Detroit represents a homecoming of sorts for the Blue Oval, which launched in the Motor City 113 years ago. For the first time in three decades, Ford, General Motors and Fiat-Chrysler all have offices in the city of Detroit.
In general, Ford is considered to be trailing competitors in developing autonomous vehicles. They repeated plans on Thursday to produce a self-driving hybrid vehicle by 2021.
The company also plans to offer 40 electrified vehicles globally by 2022.