As the Weekly first reported in January, the Dearborn, Mich.-based car company has chosen Palo Alto for its first West Coast-based research-and-development lab. Thomas Fehrenbach, the city's economic development manager, said the company moved into 400 Hamilton Ave. earlier this month.
Ford's choice of location reflects its desire to be at the center of Palo Alto's robust venture-capital culture. The sprawling four-story building is owned by prominent developer Charles "Chop" Keenan and is located two blocks from City Hall. It stands on the corner of Hamilton and Waverley Street and already houses several venture-capital firms along with a Wells Fargo branch.
Given the building's existing tenants, the move appears to be consistent with Ford's stated mission to tap into Palo Alto's venture talent. Its Silicon Valley Lab will focus on "independent technology projects and identification of new research investments and partners located along the West Coast," according to a joint statement from Ford and the city.
Paul Mascarenas, Ford's chief technical officer and vice president for research and innovation, said the new lab "will help us innovate even faster as emerging ideas and technologies are (a) key part of the culture."
"We think Palo Alto is a perfect fit for us and look forward to becoming part of the community," Mascarenas said in a statement.
With the lab, Ford becomes the latest car company to move into Palo Alto in recent years. Tesla Motors moved into its new headquarters on Deer Creek Road in 2009, and Fisker and McLaren opened dealerships in 2010 at the prominent corner of El Camino Real and Arastradero Road.
Fehrenbach told the Weekly that the city welcomes Ford's arrival, which further underscores the city's reputation for technology and innovation.
"What better place than downtown Palo Alto to locate an innovation lab for another Fortune 100 company?" Fehrenbach said.