Ford Focus, Ford in China, President Donald Trump, Ford

DETROIT (AP/WWJ) — Ford Motor Co. will export vehicles from China to the U.S. for the first time starting in 2019.

Ford will move production of its Ford Focus small car from the U.S. to China, where it already makes the Focus for Chinese buyers.

The company’s move is notable for several reasons, including the fact President Donald Trump has closely watched Ford’s business and pledged to stop the Detroit automaker from moving jobs to Mexico. He later claimed credit for Ford not moving a plant to Mexico, though experts said the particular factory was never set to move or close.

The president also crowed in March, seeming to take credit for saving American jobs, when Ford announced a $1.2 billion factory investment Thus far, he’s been quiet on the China announcement.

Ford’s president of global operations Joe Hinrichs says the move will save Ford $1 billion, including $500 million from canceling a new plant in Mexico that was intended to build the Focus.

U.S. Focus sales were down 20 percent through May, hurt by low gas prices and consumer preference for SUVs. But Hinrichs said small cars remain an important part of Ford’s business.

He also stressed that Ford will export more vehicles to China than it imports. Ford expects to export 80,000 vehicles to China this year.

Per Bloomberg News, Ford has fully abandoned its strategy of relocating small car production to Mexico that had been announced last year by then-Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields. Fields was replaced as CEO last month by Jim Hackett, former CEO of office-furniture maker Steelcase Inc.

“We’ve done a lot of research and consumers care a lot more about the quality and the value than they do about the sourcing location,” Hinrichs said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. “iPhones are produced in China, for example, and people don’t really talk
about it.”

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)




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