DETROIT (WWJ) – Ford Motor Co. has confirmed it is moving small car production south of the border.
“Within the next two to three years, a majority of our small vehicles will be built in low-cost areas,” Ford CEO Mark Fields told reporters on a Wednesday conference call. “For example, here in North America we will have migrated all of our small car production to Mexico and out of the United States.”
WWJ Auto Beat Reporter Jeff Gilbert says that when Ford announced the Focus was leaving Michigan Assembly and they were building a new plant in Mexico, many people assumed that the automaker was following the industry trend of producing smaller cars south of the border — and building larger, more expensive, more profitable vehicles in the U.S.
These latest comments by Fields confirm that.
The issue has been a flash point in the presidential campaign several times, with Republican candidate Donald Trump claiming almost a year ago that Ford had altered its Mexico plans because of him. That was later proven to be untrue.
Trump also took aim at the automaker again during a campaign stop near the Motor City, saying that as president he would forbid any production moving to Mexico.
“I would say, the deal is not going to be approved, I won’t allow it. I want that plant in the United States, preferably here,” Trump said at the time.
Fields said the company is changing to meet a changing world.
“It’s a very different day at Ford today, because some of the things that were off the table you know, three, four years ago, are being considered — and that’s partly because of all the opportunities that we seen in front of us,” he said. “And you have to make choices.”
Gilbert says that while Michigan Assembly is losing the Focus is it expected to be set up to manufacture larger products in the near future, under a contract signed last year with the United Auto Workers union.
Also announced Wednesday, Fields says the company will invest $4.5 billion in electric vehicles by 2020.
Fields told investors that profits will dip slightly next year as the company invests in new products, but they will rebound in 2018. “Our core business is robust and also defensible,” Fields said.
While Ford’s investments in Mexico have become a talking point in this presidential campaign, Fields says Ford has created more new jobs in the U.S. than it has in Mexico.