Small Fords to be made in Mexico?


News in the US that Ford has taken some brave steps for the manufacture of its small car range. Among its changes: it has reduced available Ford Focus combinations from 200,000 in 2015 to approximately 300 for the 2017-model year and 30 for the next-generation Focus. That’s saving the company about $300 per car.

Ford’s proposed move to Mexico reflects a strategy that other US automakers are taking. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has reportedly said it is ending all car production in the U.S.

General Motors builds several small cars in the U.S. including the Chevrolet Cruze compact at its Lordstown Assembly Plant in Ohio and the small Buick Verano, and the only subcompact built in the U.S., the Chevrolet Sonic at its Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township.

GM, however, is ending production next month of the Verano as it phases the small car out of its Buick lineup in the U.S. GM also builds the Cruze in Mexico for other markets.

The Mexico issue has been a topic touched upon in the 2016 presidential campaign for Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has said he would charge Ford a tariff on all cars produced in Mexico for the US market. He has said the tariff could be as much as 35 percent.

“Right now, there’s no consequence,” Trump said in an interview with The Detroit News during a visit to the Motor City earlier this month. “They take their factory, they leave, they fire everybody in Michigan … and after they fire everybody, they build cars in a different country and they just sell them to us and there’s no retribution, there’s no consequence that will stop them from leaving.

“Right now in Mexico, they’re building massive plants for Ford Motor Co. to move in and build cars and trucks in Michigan and they’re going to leave Michigan – not going to happen if I’m president,” Trump said. Wonderfully inflammatory rhetoric, but if he does get in – will he instigate a tariff?

Apparently, Ford plans to build a new $1.6 billion assembly plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The American automaker has said it will employ 2,800 at the new Mexican plant by 2020, but the automaker has never said truck production would be moved to Mexico as Trump suggested, and has recently moved some truck production from Mexico to the United States. Ford does not assemble its trucks in Mexican plants, but Detroit Three rivals General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles do have truck assembly plants in Mexico.

Ford also is spending $1.1 billion to expand an engine plant in Chihuahua and another $1.2 billion to build a new transmission plant in the Mexican state of Guanajuato that is projected to employ 2,000 workers by 2018.

Ford says Mexico ranks fourth among countries where it makes its vehicles. Thailand is not in that global picture, it would seem.