The good news is that more profitable cars will replace Focus and C-Max on the production line.
President-elect Donald Trump has been giving Ford a hell of a hard time for its plan to move production of two small cars, the Focus and C-Max, to Mexico. The move is designed to save the automaker money as both are slow-sellers in the US, a market currently obsessed with pickup trucks and SUVs. Trump had threatened to put a 35% tariff on automakers who make cars elsewhere and import them into the country, but according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) (paywall) Ford is planning to continue on with its Mexico plans despite the threat.
Ford CEO Mark Fields stood by the Mexico factory, telling the WSJ that no jobs would be lost in the process. “When you look at moving the Focus out of our Michigan assembly plant, that’s to make room for new products—zero jobs affected, zero jobs impacted,” Fields declared. Workers in the United Automobile Workers union would keep their jobs and could potentially make more via profit-sharing. The plan is to replace the lost small cars with hotter-selling and pricier trucks and SUVs. These new would most likely be the revived Bronco and Ranger, although the company hasn’t officially confirmed the return of either model yet. Ford’s plan certainly sounds reasonable, although the Donald may still have a hard time accepting it.
Technically, Ford is still moving production of two cars (the last small cars it makes stateside) out of the US. What if Trump tells Ford to build a new factory in the US? Would the automaker be willing to call the soon-to-be president’s bluff? It seems likely, with the Blue Oval’s CEO saying, “We have made the decision to move the Focus out, and we’re making that investment now.” That Mexico plant has a price tag of $1.6 billion, making it a hard investment to just up and walk away from. Ford has been one of Trump’s favorite corporate punching bags during his recent political turn. It remains to be seen if the automaker will continue to be a target once the former host of “The Celebrity Apprentice” takes up residency in the White House.