Ford might turn Detroit eyesore into self-driving, EV hub

2018 Ford Focus Electric

Ford has its eye on a landmark building nestled in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. The automaker revealed it has plans to purchase the rotting Michigan Central Station and renovate the space to house an electric- and self-driving car hub.

The potential purchase follows Ford’s decision to relocate 220 employees to a renovated former hosiery factory near the train station, (subscription required) reported on Monday. The automaker plans to purchase 50 properties in and around the Corktown neighborhood.

Should Ford go through with purchasing the abandoned train station, the automaker said it will have space for at least 2,000 to 3,000 employees. The idea is to separate electric- and self-driving car work away from Dearborn to foster a more creative and “start-up” climate for young creative types who like to live in the city.

However, the move seems at odds with Ford’s plans for a newly renovated Dearborn headquarters. Sources told that plans for the renovations were re-evaluated after Jim Hackett replaced Mark Fields as Ford’s CEO. With the Dearborn renovations, Ford executives had hoped to centralize the company’s workforce, with the goal of doubling the employee count to 24,000, but Hackett appears to have different ideas to cultivate a different kind of culture.

The Corktown plan also holds historic meaning for Ford itself. The automaker set up shop in Detroit 115 years ago before moving out to the suburbs, and both Bill and Edsel Ford II had nothing but positives to say of the potential purchase. “Bill’s excited about it, and I’m excited about it,” Edsel Ford II, Ford director and cousin of Executive Chairman Bill Ford, said.

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