DETROIT (WWJ) – Hundreds of U.S. jobs have been saved as Ford Motor Co. says it plans to invest $700 million to expand its Flat Rock Assembly Plant.
Ford President and CEO Mark Fields on Tuesday announced that the automaker will cancel plans to build a $1.6 billion plant in San Luis Potosi Mexico and will instead build new electrified vehicles — including hybrid versions of the F-150 pickup and Mustang — at its Flat Rock facility, south of Detroit.
Expansion of the plant will create 700 new jobs, according to the company.
Ford will also build an electric SUV with a range of 300 miles and is moving forward with a wireless charging pilot program in the U.S. and Europe.
“This innovative technology will allow you to charge your car simply by driving over a charging pad,” Ford said. “So, there’s no cables, there’s no wires and you never have to forget to charge your vehicle.”
Fields said the F-150 will also come with an unusual amenity: “By electrifying it, it can double as a mobile generator capable enough to power a work site,” he said.
Fields said Tuesday that he’s encouraged by the pro-growth policies of president-elect Donald Trump.
How much does this move by Ford have to do with Trump?
“Fields said the decision was made just a short time ago, so canceling the Mexico plant, that decision, we don’t know if it came before or after the election,” said WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert. “He says it was made based on business decision, declining sales of small cars.”
Ford will continue to produce small cars in Mexico, Gilbert reported, just at an existing plant.
“Where Mr. Trump comes in, Fields says that he does think that the business conditions are going to improve under Donald Trump,” Gilbert reported “He didn’t say specifics about that, but obviously that would mean in terms of regulations, in terms of taxes, and maybe even in terms of fuel economy standards.”
This comes just hours after Trump called out another U.S. automaker. Trump, in a tweet sent early Tuesday, threatened to slap a tax on General Motors for importing compact cars to the U.S. from Mexico. Trump complained that GM is sending Mexican-made Cruzes to the U.S. tax-free, urging GM to make in the U.S. “or pay big border tax!”
In a series of tweets in November the president-elect spoke positively about Ford, giving himself credit for Ford’s decision to keep building its Lincoln MKC SUV in Kentucky.
In a news release, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder applauded Ford’s Flat Rock plan.
“We are seeing the drive toward the next chapter of the state’s legendary automotive history shift into a higher gear with Ford’s announcement,” Snyder said. “In the next decade, Michigan will lead the world in reimagining transportation with the acceleration of next generation advanced technologies. We are excited that Ford has chosen Michigan as its innovative home for their fully electric and autonomous hybrid vehicles. Thank you, Ford, for your continued confidence in our state and our people.”
Ford said the moves are part of a $4.5 billion investment in electrified vehicles by 2020, offering customers greater fuel efficiency, capability and power across Ford’s global vehicle lineup.