Ford Announces Plan To Build Electric Cars in Mexico
Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) has stated its plans to assemble new battery-powered cars in Mexico. Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president for autonomous vehicles and electrification, said that producing the electric cars in Mexico will allow Ford to improve the “fitness” of that business and take advantage of lower labor costs.
In 2020, the company will begin assembling a small, battery-powered SUV at a plant in Cuautitlán, north of Mexico City. Ford currently builds the Fiesta there, which isn’t very popular. That first model will be followed by at least 12 more electric vehicles. Ford currently has only one all-electric vehicle and it lags behind the Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model 3 in popularity.
Ford canceled plans to spend $1.6 billion to build a car plant in Mexico a year ago under heavy criticism from then President-elect Donald J. Trump. At the time, the company said that it would equip a Michigan factory to make electric and hybrid models instead. Ford made the announcement in the days leading up to Mr. Trump’s inauguration. Mark Fields, Ford’s CEO at the time, said the plan was a “vote of confidence” in the Trump administration.
The Michigan plant that was to build the electric cars, located in Flat Rock, 25 miles southwest of Detroit, will not be left idle. Now, the location will focus on making a range of self-driving cars for taxis and delivery fleets. Ford now plans to invest $900 million in the Flat Rock location, up from $700 million, and create 850 jobs there, 150 more than previously expected. The plant is scheduled to roll out the first self-driving models in 2021.
Auto manufacturers have rushed to build plants in Mexico over the last several years due to the lower labor costs and the country’s far-reaching network of trade agreements. But now, the Trump administration is pushing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. Automakers have been concerned that changes to the pact could increase the cost of vehicles produced in Mexican plants. Ford’s latest announcement drew no immediate public comment from President Trump.