CHICAGO—Ford Motor Co. plans to invest $1 billion in its assembly and stamping plants here. The 95-year-old Chicago Assembly Plant on the Southeast Side of the Windy City, which produces the Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator and Police Interceptor, is Ford’s oldest continuously operating factory. The facility dates back to the Model T era.

Ford is building an all-new body shop and paint shop, in addition to making major modifications to the final assembly area and installing new stamping lines in preparation for the 2020 editions of the company’s popular sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

“Advanced manufacturing technologies at the plants include a collaborative robot with a camera that inspects electrical connections during the manufacturing process,” says Joe Hinrichs, president of global operations at Ford Motor Co. “In addition, several 3D-printing machines will be installed to help employees build these vehicles with even higher quality for customers.

“Employee-related improvements to make the plant a better place to work total $40 million and include all-new LED lighting, cafeteria updates, new break areas and security upgrades in the parking lot,” adds Hinrichs.

“We are furthering our commitment to America with this manufacturing investment in Chicago and 500 more good-paying jobs,” Hinrichs points out. “We reinvented the Explorer from the ground up, and this investment will further strengthen [our] SUV market leadership.”

Ford Motor Co has a long history associated with Chicago. In 1903, Henry Ford sold his first car to a dentist in the Windy City. A few years later, visits to Chicago factories and meat packing plants inspired Ford and his colleagues to develop the world’s first moving assembly line.