Ford Motor Co. drives into downtown Palo Alto | March 30, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 30, 2012

Ford Motor Co. drives into downtown Palo Alto

Michigan-based car giant sets up its first West Coast research lab on Hamilton Avenue

Ford Motor Company arrived in downtown Palo Alto earlier this month, setting up a research operation in one of Hamilton Avenue's most prominent buildings.

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.

— Gennady Sheyner


Posted by Henry, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 28, 2012 at 10:15 pm

BMW has had a R&D operation on Hamilton for years. Daimler-Chrysler has an R&D operation on Page Mill Rd for years. Ford is a "Johnny-come-lately" to the Valley, and to quality automobiles. American cars suck, no matter the ratings. I have driven every brand, and recently, to. European and Japanese cars - and even the Hyundai - are far better rides.

And, if anyone thinks that the American auto industry is "back" - think again! Workers are making $14.50 an hour - a fraction of what they used to, with reduced health care and pension benefits. The auto executives are making serious bucks, thanks to American taxpayers.

BW should buy up the Big 3, and do us all a favor.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Sure. Ask Daimler-Benz how that Chrysler purchase worked out.

Posted by America-Needs-To-Be-Union-Free, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm

> Ask Daimler-Benz how that Chrysler purchase worked out.

Bet Daimler wishes it could have been able to do this deal without the albatross of union labor around its neck?

Posted by Frank, a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2012 at 7:47 pm

It's a good thing that elitists like Henry don't have anything larger than their iPhone to haul around. The rest of the country does the work for him by utilizing heavy-duty trucks, of which there are no imports, to transport goods to and from markets.

Posted by CrunchyCookie, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 31, 2012 at 11:40 pm

CrunchyCookie is a registered user.

Hey now, American cars don't suck as bad as they used to... GM's stopped sucking in 2007, and Ford's around the turn of the century. As for Chrysler, well, cough cough, nevermind.

Financially though, they are very much back. All three have been profitable in the 1-2 years (a half-decade in Ford's case), and with the better products, lower labor costs, and lessened number of excess dealers and retarded redundant brands to drag them down, they look to be safely in the black for years to come.

The fact that the most smart/stable of the Big Three has now joined the Palo Alto party is icing on the cake.

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