Ford Motor Company has canceled its plans to build a US $1.6-billion assembly plant in San Luis Potosí, and will invest instead at a factory in Michigan.
A move that many will see as capitulation to United States president-elect Donald Trump, who has been highly critical of the auto maker’s plans to continue to move production to Mexico, was carried out “for our business,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields today.
Fields told CNN that the move is a “vote of confidence” in the pro-business environment that Trump is creating, and denied there was a special deal behind the decision.
“We didn’t cut a deal with Trump. We did it for our business,” he said in an exclusive interview.
The peso lost almost 0.7% on the news, dropping to 20.88 to the U.S. dollar.
The United States’ second biggest automotive manufacturer announced in April last year it would build the new plant in Mexico, where it would move production of the Ford Focus from Michigan.
The announcement was followed a day later by a declaration by then-candidate Trump that Ford’s plan was “an absolute disgrace,” and demonstrated the need to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement “to create a fair deal for American workers.”
Two weeks earlier, Ford’s Mark Fields said the company would make foreign investments if they made sense.
Later in the election campaign, Trump said he would put a 35% tariff on Ford vehicles made in Mexico and sold in the U.S.
Now, the Focus will still be produced in Mexico, but at the company’s existing plant in Hermosillo, Sonora.
“Our announcements today are really a vote of confidence in the [U.S.] economy,” Fields said.
Meanwhile, Trump turned his attention to General Motors this morning, threatening to impose a “big border tax” for manufacturing some of its Chevrolet Cruze models in Mexico
“General Motors is sending Mexican-made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers-tax free across border. Make in U.S.A. or pay big border tax!” Trump said in a post on Twitter.
GM has been manufacturing the Cruze at its plant in Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila, since 2008.