New York: Ford confirmed on Friday that it will keep production of one SUV model in Kentucky, rather than relocating as planned, a decision US President-elect Donald Trump claimed as a personal victory.
"Just hung up on the phone with my friend Bill Ford, the chairman of Ford's board, who let me know he was going to keep the Lincoln site in Kentucky - No Mexico," Trump wrote on Twitter yesterday night.
Trump's declaration was met with some derision since Ford had not publicly announced plans to move the Lincoln MKC production. And just this week Ford confirmed it will proceed with plans to move production of the Focus to Mexico from Michigan, a state Trump narrowly won in last week's election.
But under the last year's contract agreement with the powerful United Automobile Workers union, Ford had made plans to move the smaller Lincoln MKC production line to make room for the Escape. Ford's Louisville plant produces the Lincoln MKC as well as the Ford Escape, both small SUVs.
"Cuautilan plant in Mexico was likely the plant for MKC," Ford spokesman Christine Baker, told AFP in an email today.
Ford already produces the Lincoln MKZ sedan on the Hermosillo site, and in early April announced a USD 1.6 billion investment in a new site in Mexico.
But, the company said in a statement, "Today, we confirmed with the President-elect that our small Lincoln utility vehicle made at the Louisville Assembly Plant will stay in Kentucky."
One of the main themes of Trump's campaign was to bring back manufacturing jobs that American companies had moved overseas in search of cheap labor. Ford and the IT giant Apple were his favorite targets.
Trump even threatened to impose a 35 percent punitive import duty on cars produced in Mexico, and to renegotiate the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
His rhetoric seems to have worked since several states where the car industry is strongly represented and that traditionally voted Democratic, such as Michigan and Wisconsin, voted for Trump, tipping the election.
Ford said of the decision, "We are encouraged that President-elect Trump and the new Congress will pursue policies that will improve US competitiveness and make it possible to keep production of this vehicle here in the United States."
But the company defended its record, saying it employs more American auto workers and produces more American-made vehicles than any other company, and has invested $12 billion US plants in the past five years and created nearly 28,000 US jobs.
"We continue to engage with President-elect Trump's team -- and the new Congress -- as they shape the policy agenda for 2017. We have shared our commitment to continue investing in the US and creating American jobs," Ford said.