Ford building new car factory in Mexico

By Cheryl Chumley

Ford is investing $1.6 billion in a new facility in Mexico.
Ford is investing $1.6 billion in a new facility in Mexico.

Ford announced Tuesday it is investing $1.6 billion into a new plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, with construction to start this summer – and the United Auto Workers union couldn’t be more disappointed.

“Today’s announcement … is a disappointment and very troubling,” UAW president Dennis Williams said in a statement reported by the Detroit Free Press. “For every investment in Mexico it means jobs that could have and should have been available right here in the U.S.A.”

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Ford plans to build small cars at the plant, with operations to kick off in 2018. The plant will provide more than 2,800 jobs by 2020, a massive blow to UAW which pressed for wage hikes in its latest contract talks with Ford just a few months ago.

Ford’s vice president Joe Hinrichs said the company needs to keep abreast of financial realities and that it has hired more than 25,000 Americans in the past five years to work at various U.S. sites.

“We have to make decisions on a global scale because we compete globally,” he said, to the Free Press. “But let’s be clear: We are a proud American company and the majority of our investment happens here in the U.S.”

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The announcement comes just a few weeks after Republican presidential primary front-runner Donald Trump vowed to keep Ford from moving into Mexico, even if he had to threaten it with the imposition of a 35 percent tariff on products or parts imported into America.

“Within 24 to 48 hours, I will get a call from the head of Ford and he will say, ‘Mr. President, we have decided we’re going to build our new plant in the United States,'” Trump said in March, from a rally in Warren. “That’s 100 percent sure. They’re going to say, ‘We’re moving back. You want us to move to Michigan?’ And I’ll say, ‘Yeah.'”

Hinrichs said Ford’s move to Mexico does not, and will not, threaten U.S. jobs. He declined, however, to say what products will come out of the new plant, saying only Ford wanted to make its feature Focus model in a “lower cost” area.

“When we look at our manufacturing footprint, especially with small cars, we have not made it a secret that we want to improve the profitability of small cars,” Hinrichs said.

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