Ford Moves Focus Production to China

Posted June 22, 2017

That was a surprise.

In the second half of the year, the start production of new generation Ford Focus is expected.

Ford Motor Company notes that the change in plans will allow it to save an additional $500 million by not moving production of the Ford Focus to Mexico.

Ford's new China factory will begin operations in Chongqing in 2019 after production at the MI factory ends. The Wayne plant will begin building a new Ranger midsize truck in late 2018 and a Bronco midsize SUV in 2020. The automaker also announced on Tuesday that it will invest $900 million in a Kentucky factory to build big SUVs, like the Lincoln Navigator, which would secure 1,000 jobs at the plant.

Ford will shift production of the Focus compact vehicle to China, then will ship many of them back to the U.S.to sell. Image source: Ford Motor Company. That probably meant moving it outside of the United States.

Ford U.S. Focus sales have fallen 22 percent this year, as low gas prices have helped spur more buyers into larger vehicles.

The move is the first major decision Ford has announced under Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett and marks a complete break from the strategy of his ousted predecessor, Mark Fields, to relocate small auto production to Mexico.

Sales of the focus are down 20% so far this year.

Such a relaxed attitude presents a sharp contrast to President Trump's zealous stance against businesses moving operations out of the US, expressed just a few months earlier.

"Today's announcement relates to the global sourcing of Focus for North America only", a Ford Australia spokeswoman told Wheels. Trump heralded that as a victory, even though Ford said it would still build the Focus in Mexico, just at an existing plant.

Under the leaderships of former CEO Mark Fields, Ford has shown a conciliatory stance toward President Donald Trump, who touted creating and protecting U.S.jobs as a high priority of his administration. "The small auto market has fallen far more than any one anticipated".

Ford already makes the Focus at two different plants in China.

A 2017 Ford Focus.

Image: Ford to produce Expedition at Kentucky plant.

Ford isn't the first USA carmaker to import vehicles from China, but the Focus would represent the highest number of Chinese-made cars in American dealerships.

The move also raises questions about whether the advantages American manufacturers have long enjoyed under the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) are no longer enough to make them competitive with those operating in regions of the world where labor is cheaper.