From Model T to SUVs: Ford’s Chicago factories to get $1 billion upgrade, add 500 jobs to build latest models

Ford Motor Co. said Thursday that it would invest $1 billion in its Chicago-area manufacturing operations to expand production of its Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator sport utility vehicles.

The announcement, made at the Chicago Auto Show, will add 500 jobs to two manufacturing facilities, the assembly plant and stamping plant, said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations. The expansion is part of a commitment the company made in its agreement with the United Auto Workers in 2015, and brings the total number of workers at its Chicago-area plants to 5,800.

The overhaul of the plants — an assembly plant at 12600 S. Torrence Ave. in Chicago and a stamping plant in Chicago Heights — is expected to begin in March and be completed in the spring.