Ford to import Focus small car from China in 2019

Gwen Vasquez
June 20, 2017

The Dearborn-based automaker announced Tuesday that production on the new model of the small vehicle will begin at existing plants in China in the second half of 2019.

With its latest move, Ford has fully abandoned its strategy of relocating small-car production to Mexico that had been announced previous year by then-CEO Mark Fields.

Hinrichs said Ford remains a major exporter to China, shipping about 80,000 vehicles a year from North America. Kentucky Truck employs almost 7,600 full-time hourly workers - and Ford has more US hourly workers and builds more vehicles in the USA than any other automaker, according to Ford. The Michigan Assembly Plant now making the Focus will be retooled to produce the Ranger midsize pickup in late 2018 and the Bronco midsize SUV in 2020.

Ford also said Tuesday that it plans to invest $900 million in its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville to make the new, aluminum-sided Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs.

The company notes that it exports the two truck lines to over 55 global markets. The company said the investment would preserve 1,000 jobs at the plant.

The Focus has been bounced around over the last few months as Ford tried to squeeze some profits from the ailing small auto segment.

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The company was building a $1.6 billion assembly plant for the next Focus model in Mexico, but ran into stiff opposition from President Trump, then canceled the project.

General Motors Co (GM.N) has been exporting Buick and Cadillac cars from China to the United States, as has Volvo Cars, a unit of Chinese automaker Geely (0175.HK).

Fields was replaced as CEO last month by Jim Hackett, former CEO of office-furniture maker Steelcase Inc. "At the same time, we also have looked at how we can be more successful in the small vehicle segment and deliver even more choices for customers in a way that makes business sense".

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