Ford Motor Company confirmed plans to produce its next Ford Focus compact car in China for the North American market. The news marks a shift in strategy as the new compact was originally planned for production in Mexico.
The company states it will produce the Focus at both facilities that make up its Changan Ford Assembly Plant in China beginning in the second half of 2019. Some Focus models for North America make source from a European plant, both the majority will come from Changan.
Ford currently produces the Focus at its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan. That plant is slated to retool to produce the upcoming Bronco and Ranger in the coming years. Ford originally planned to produce the next Focus at a new $1.6 billion plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, but the company canceled those plans about a year after the announcement. At the time of the cancelation of the new plant, Ford was saying it would move Focus production to its other Mexico plant in Hermosillo.
During the announcement cancelling the plant in San Luis Potosi Ford also announced an investment in its Flat Rock Assembly plant in Michigan. The timing of the announcements led U.S. President Donald Trump to praise the company for “bringing back” jobs to the U.S. by canceling the new Mexico plant.
Clearly Ford purposely waited a few months after the cancelation announcement to announce that it was canceled because Focus production is moving to China, not Mexico. So far the Trump Administration nor UAW have commented on the announcement.
Ford says moving Focus production to China will save the company up to $1 billion. It originally said moving it to Mexico would save $500 million and now says it will save another $500 million moving it to China because it will have to retool one less plant.
“We’ve done a lot of research and consumers care a lot more about the quality and the value than they do about the sourcing location,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations, said in a conference call as reported by Automotive News. “iPhones are produced in China, for example, and people don’t really talk about it.”
Likely supporting Ford’s decision has been other automaker experience in importing vehicles from China to the U.S. market. General Motors and Volvo both have been importing products from their Chinese assembly plants with little pushback from paying consumers.