Ford accelerates electric vehicle investment

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Carmaker Ford is expanding production of all-electric vehicles after deciding that rapid growth in market meant it needed to accelerate its plans.

It is investing about $900m (£682m) in new production capacity at a plant in Michigan, creating about 900 jobs.

Head of global operations Joe Hinrichs said it had "taken a fresh look" at the growth in electric vehicles.

Ford, the number two US carmaker, also said it would start production of autonomous vehicles in about two years.

The company has been in talks with Germany's Volkswagen about an alliance to invest and built electric and autonomous vehicles. Mr Hinrichs said the talks had been positive, but there was nothing to announce.

Last year, Ford set out a long-term plan to invest about $11bn in new vehicle technologies.

Mr Hinrichs told reporters: "When we were taking a look at our $11bn investment in electrification, it became obvious to us that we were going to need a second plant in the not-too-distant future to add capacity for our battery electric vehicles."

The latest investment will focus on Ford's Flat Rock plant in south-east Michigan, which employs about 3,400 people building the Mustang and Lincoln Continental cars.

Ford was already planning an all-electric sport utility vehicle in 2020 that will be built at its factory in Cuautitlan, Mexico.

In January, the company said it wanted to have about 40 hybrid and all-electric cars in its model line-up by 2022 - about 16 of which will be fully electric.

"As we ramp up AV production, this plan allows us to adjust our investment spending to accommodate the pace of growth of this exciting new technology," Mr Hinrichs said.

Carmakers are investing heavily in alternative vehicle (AV) technology because of pressure from regulators in the US, China and Europe to cut carbon emissions.

The recent Geneva Motor Show, which Ford did not attend, was dominated by the unveiling of new electric cars and concepts.

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