Ford Cancels Planned $1.6M Mexico Plant; Announces $700M Investment in Michigan

(CBS NEWS) U.S. automaker Ford (F) announced Tuesday it is canceling a planned $1.6 million production facility in Mexico, while also investing $700 million in expanding a plant in Michigan to build electric and self-driving cars. The investment in the Flat Rock Assembly Plant, south of Detroit, would create 700 direct new jobs, the company said in a press release.

Ford CEO Mark Fields told CNN that he spoke to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, but emphasized the announcement was unrelated to Donald Trump’s tweet Tuesday morning lambasting GM for supposedly importing Mexico-made cars.

The President-elect accused GM of shipping Chevrolet Cruze cars “tax free across [the] border.” GM responded, however, that only a small portion of the Cruze cars sold in the U.S. were made in Mexico. Most are manufactured in Lordstown, Ohio.

Fields did, however, say Ford sees a “more positive” U.S. manufacturing environment under Trump. 

“When we make decisions like this as a company we look, first we do what’s right for our business. This makes sense for our business. And we look at all factors, including what we view as a more positive U.S. manufacturing business environment under President-elect Trump. And it’s literally a vote of confidence around some of the pro-growth policies that he has been outlining and that’s why we’re making this decision to invest here in the U.S. and in our plant Michigan,” he said. 

The company also said that seven of the 13 new global electrified vehicles it plans to introduce would be ready in the next five years in various markets. Those include hybrid versions of the F-150 pickup and Mustang in the U.S., a plug-in hybrid Transit Custom van in Europe and a fully electric SUV, which is expected to have a range of at least 300 miles, globally.

Another vehicle planned for the Flat Rock plant and scheduled to be available by 2021, Ford said, is “a high-volume autonomous vehicle designed for commercial ride hailing or ride sharing, starting in North America.” It’s a sign that Ford is moving into the rapidly crowding autonomous ride-sharing space. Uber, Google and GM are also in various stages of developing self-driving vehicles capable of picking up passengers.

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