Ford Reveals Vision For Future Home of Innovation and Mobility

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Ford has revealed more details about its transformation of Detroit’s iconic, and abandoned, 105-year old Michigan Central train station into a high-tech R&D hub. The automaker plans to renovate the building and transform it into the centerpiece of a vibrant new campus in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood that will serve as an innovation hub for Ford’s vision for the future of transportation.

Ford Central Michigan train station in Detroit June 2018

The new home for Ford’s auto technology is expected to be completed by 2022 and will be the workplace for approximately 2,500 Ford employees. This weekend, it’s inviting the public to come in and tour the train station building before it begins its remodeling project.

Ford formalized its huge bet on an urban engineering center in the old Michigan Central train station in Detroit that, Executive Chairman Bill Ford said at a kick-off event with the public and dignitaries including Michigan governor Rick Snyder that it live-streamed on Tuesday, will make it “a place of possibility again.” The hashtag, #fordetroit, evokes Ford Detroit and “For Detroit.”

The Corktown campus will become a place where Ford and its partners will work on autonomous and electric vehicle businesses, and design solutions for a new transportation operating system that makes mobility more convenient and accessible through smart, connected vehicles, roads, parking and public transit.

More than that, Ford’s investment in the decrepit, century-old facility and surrounding areas in the Corktown neighborhood will be meant to burnish its brand for millennials and Generation Z-ers that the automaker hopes to keep and get to work for it as Ford competes for the industry’s future around electrification and autonomous-driving technologies in which, arguably, America’s No. 2 automaker trails much of the rest of the industry.

Ford intends to make the renovated train station—which for the last few decades mainly has served as a toothless symbol of Motown’s decay in photographs and movies—”the next great anchor in Detroit’s comeback and the center that restores Detroit’s place as the “mobility capital of the world,” as the concept images below show:

Ford Detroit train station remodel #fordetroit

Merging the past and the future

“We at Ford want to help write the next chapter working together in Corktown with the best startups, the smartest talent and the thinkers, engineers and problem-solvers who see things differently—all to shape the future of mobility and transportation,” said the Ford scion at the formal unveiling.

The formal unveiling featured local dignitaries and company officials speaking about overcoming obstacles and writing a new chapter in the city’s revival that has been taking stronger form for the last several years, beginning with investments by billionaire and Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert a few miles away in Downtown Detroit; by the Ilitch family, which owns Little Caesar’s pizza as well as the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings; and by many other brands and startups that have been emboldened by the turn in the city’s fortunes.

There also was a children’s choir that performed the classic Motown hit, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Detroit rapper Big Sean not only performed at the event but also made for a fitting symbol of the focus on the facility as a keystone of local renewal. He has agreed to work with a Michigan-based movie-theater chain, Emagine Entertainment, to construct an entertainment venue somewhere in Detroit to show movies as well as host some live acts.

The reimagined Michigan Central Train station, reshaped in Ford’s image to appeal to a new generation of urban worker, will be part of a Ford mobility corridor running from Ann Arbor to Dearborn to Detroit. It’s also the latest node in Ford’s research network stretching from Palo Alto to Germany to China. Ford’s plan to redesign its Dearborn campus will continue in parallel with the Corktown campus development.

See more in the videos below:

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