Reports: Ford to build new plant in Mexico

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. plans to build a new assembly plant in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi and significantly increase its production in that country, according to multiple reports.

The plant will represent a $1.5 billion investment and allow Ford to build 350,000 cars annually, reports say. Ford is expected to announce the plans in the first quarter.

Reuters first reported the news last month, citing unnamed Mexican government officials. The Wall Street Journal on Monday said the new plant, and expansion of an existing plant, would double Ford’s production in Mexico.

“We do not comment on speculation,” Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said in a statement.

Ford last year said it would stop building its Focus and C-Max cars at its Michigan Assembly Plant and move production elsewhere. UAW officials said at the time that at least the Focus would move to Mexico. Ford executives have said they’re looking for a cheaper option to build lower-profit vehicles like the Focus and C-Max, and Mexico would represent such an opportunity.

The automaker said in April it would invest $2.5 billion for two new engine and transmission plants and an expansion of a diesel engine line that will create about 3,800 jobs.

Ford will spend $1.1 billion to build an engine facility within its Chihuahua Engine Plant, where it will produce a new gasoline-powered engine, creating 1,300 jobs. Ford will export the engines to the U.S., Canada, South America and the Asia Pacific region.

In addition, Ford will spend $1.2 billion to build a transmission plant within the premises of a facility used by transmission supplier and partner Getrag, which is based in the city of Irapuato in the state of Guanajuato. The project will create 2,000 jobs. The new transmission plant — Ford’s first transmission facility in Mexico — will produce two all-new automatic transmissions for key products primarily in South America, Europe and Asia Pacific as well as other North American markets.

The automaker will spend $200 million and create 500 more jobs to expand its I-4 and diesel engines production in Chihuahua.

The investment has drawn the ire of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has consistently mentioned Ford in his speeches, prompting President and CEO Mark Fields to send him a letter explaining what they’re doing there.

Ford has 11,300 employees in Mexico and builds the Ford Fiesta, Fusion and Lincoln MKZ there.

Executives have said they have no plans to build a new plant in the United States. Ford last opened a new U.S. plant — the Dearborn Truck Plant — in 2004.

Ford isn’t the only automaker investing in Mexico. General Motors Co. last year announced a $5 billion investment there over six years and Toyota Motor Co. said it will invest $1 billion in a Mexican plant. BMW AG, Volkswagen AG and its Audi unit, Nissan Motor Co., Kia Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV also have built or announced new plants or plant expansions there.

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