SAN FRANCISCO -- Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields, seeking to burnish his company's high-tech credentials, will announce Thursday the opening of a Silicon Valley r&d center that is believed to be one of the auto industry’s largest.
The new facility, called the Ford Research & Innovation Center, will be in Palo Alto, less than 3 miles from Stanford University and the headquarters of electric vehicle startup Tesla Motors Inc.
In recent years, automakers such as Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volkswagen Group have flocked to Silicon Valley, the cradle of America’s computer industry, to hire talented engineers and work with technology giants such as Apple, Google and Intel.
Though small compared with automakers’ sprawling r&d centers in Germany, Japan and Michigan, these laboratories have rapidly become significant operations because of their cutting-edge work on autonomous driving and in-car computing.
Ford first set down roots in Silicon Valley in January 2012, when it opened a 10-person office at a different location in Palo Alto to work on big data and open-source computing. The office often hosted “hackathons” for programmers, who were invited to write code using Ford’s software.
Now the company’s presence will grow significantly.