Monday, June 26, 2017
Ford Shifts Focus to China
For the past year, the hubbub in the Rust Belt was all about who was going to Mexico, when and to what extent. Ford was, then they weren’t, then they were again, but not to build this time. Now, it turns out, Ford might be building on an entirely different continent altogether. In a recent statement, the company announced plans to move production of the compact Focus to China.
This move is not entirely unheard of. China is a massive market for Ford, especially in the compact car segment. What is different in this move is that, for the first time ever, the company plans to ship many of these units back to sell in the United States.
That might sound like bad news for American autoworkers, but it isn’t. Not really. Ford will continue with its plans to transition many of its former small car plants over to larger more profitable units here in the states. No one at the American plant currently making the Focus will lose their job, according to reports about the decision. They will just start making different vehicles including the updated version of the Ranger and the resurgent Bronco.
And Ford isn’t through investing in America. In a follow-up statement to the Focus announcement, Ford said it plans to invest $900 million in its Kentucky truck plant, where they will build updated versions of the popular Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs. That cash influx is expected to secure up to 1,000 more jobs.
Ford has been pushing back against negative PR ever since then-candidate Donald Trump falsely claimed Ford would be shipping all its auto production jobs to Mexico. That was never the case and, in fact, Ford was in the process of working through a five-year plan that hired thousands.
Still, the weight of the candidate’s words upset a lot of loyal Ford customers, forcing the company to play defense in order to win back its good name. Then, when the company said it was no longer going to build a new plant in Mexico, Trump called that a victory and took immediate credit for the decision. Given the latest move by Ford, the Trump administration chalked that up to “flexibility” in multinational companies, adding that as more of Trump’s policies were put into place, Ford would enjoy more of the same…eventually leading Ford and other companies to bring their manufacturing back to the U.S.
Ford didn’t comment on that, but they are excited to be opening up new markets and manufacturing hubs that, they hope, will help flagging sales in certain market segments.