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Ford set to invest $1B in Chicago to build new Explorer, Aviator

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News
The Blue Oval is investing $1 billion in its Chicago Assembly Plant to build the Ford Explorer and the Lincoln Aviator.

Ford Motor Co. plans to spend $1 billion at its Chicago plants to get production of the all-new Explorer and Lincoln Aviator underway.

"We believe in American manufacturing and good-paying (jobs)," Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of global operations, said at the Chicago Auto Show.

The investment was planned as part of the 2015 contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers. Ford committed then to investing $9 billion over the four years the contract covered. The four-year deal expires later this year, and negotiations for a new contract will begin this summer. 

As part of the 2015 contract, Ford said it would invest $900 million at Chicago Assembly. Hinrichs said the plant will get a new body and paint shop.

The automaker plans to add 500 jobs at its Chicago Assembly plant and Chicago Stamping plant to build the all-new Ford Explorer, the all-new Police Interceptor Utility and the all-new Lincoln Aviator. The Explorer and Aviator will have hybrid variants, and the Explorer will be offered in an ST performance trim.

"Ford's announcement of 500 additional jobs and over $1 billion in plant investments is a testament to the quality and hard work of UAW Ford members," Rory Gamble, vice president of the UAW-Ford Department, said in a statement.

"Every day UAW Ford members head to work, proud of the products they build and the craftsmanship required in vehicles like the Explorer, Aviator and Police Interceptor. Ford’s investment announcement demonstrates a commitment to the dedication of UAW members in Chicago."

Ford's Chicago Assembly plant began making vehicles in 1924, when Ford built the Model T there.

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau