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Howes: Profit isn’t there yet, but Ford hopes its autonomous vehicle gamble will pay off

Ford Motor Company's headquarters in Dearborn
Steve Shotwell
Ford Motor Company's headquarters in Dearborn

Stateside's conversation with Daniel Howes, columnist and associate business editor of the Detroit News.

Daniel Howes' column today in the Detroit News looks at some decisions by Ford Motor Company, and what they say about the future of the auto industry and Michigan.

Howes wrote about Ford’s investments in three plants, including an engine plant, and one retooling to make the returning Ford Ranger and Bronco. But he says it's what’s happening with that third investment that says a lot about what Ford is doing. 

The Ford plant in Flat Rock is currently making Mustangs and Lincoln Continentals, but there's something new on the horizon.

"They're also going to be building another data center, as well as the capability to build electrified and autonomous vehicles," Howes said. "To me, this is very symptomatic and symbolic of an industry that is really pursuing two tracks. The major players in the auto industry have got to place a lot of smart bets on the current business: the cars and trucks that generate the revenue and the profitability. And it also has got to make some smart bets on the future... and those things are not generating revenue and profits right now."

Listen to the full interview above to hear why automakers are putting a bigger emphasis on recruiting people from the tech industry, and how Wall Street is reacting to future-oriented investments like Ford's.Daniel Howes is a columnist with The Detroit News. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.


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