But chief executive Mark Fields suggests the decision is a "vote of confidence" in Trump's promise to implement pro-business policies.Ford has denied that pressure from president-elect Donald Trump was the driving force behind its surprise decision to cancel a planned factory in Mexico.The $1.6 billion project would have created a new North American manufacturing center for the Focus and C-Max. It was also expected to create nearly 3,000 direct jobs by the end of the decade. The company will now make a smaller investment in its existing Flat Rock, Michigan, factory and hire 700 workers to help build electrified vehicles and an autonomous model.
Following the announcement, Trump apparently responded on Twitter with the statement "Instead of driving jobs and wealth away, AMERICA will become the world's great magnet for INNOVATION & JOB CREATION." He later linked to a NY Post article that claims he is already delivering the jobs he promised in America.
Trump's threats of tariffs seem to be a plausible explanation for the decision to backtrack on the Mexico production expansion, however Ford claims the move was primarily driven by poor sales of small cars.
"While there is uncertainty on trade, the declining North American demand for small cars was the biggest factor driving our business decision," the company said in a statement to Jalopnik. "Wherever we can, we work to fully utilize capacity at existing facilities in North America, and that is what we are doing by expanding Flat Rock rather than building a new plant."
Notably, the Mexico investment plan was announced less than nine months ago after the car market had been in decline for several years. The next-generation Focus will still be made in Mexico, but at an existing factory in Hermosillo rather than a new plant. It is unclear if the Hermosillo plant will require significant investments or more workers to support the plan.
Ford chief Mark Fields admitted to CNN that killing the Mexico plan and stepping up Michigan investment is "literally a vote of confidence around some of the pro-growth policies that [Trump] has been outlining." The company expects the incoming administration to create a "more positive US manufacturing business environment."
In the same interview, Fields appeared to dodge questions about wether Trump's team may have privately negotiated a quid-pro-quo agreement.