Ford Motor Co. was a target of Donald Trump’s criticism on the campaign trail for building cars in Mexico, and now that Trump will be president, Ford said it’s willing to work with him to keep jobs in the U.S. — provided Trump puts the right policies in place, according to the automaker’s chief executive officer.
“We will be very clear in the things we’d like to see,” Mark Fields said in an exclusive interview Friday at Bloomberg offices in Southfield, Michigan, Bloomberg is reporting.
Among them, according to Fields: currency-manipulation rules to promote free and fair trade, tax reform and safety guidelines for autonomous vehicles.
Fields said that Ford plans to lobby the new president to soften U.S. and state fuel-economy rules. They hurt profits by forcing automakers to build more electric cars and hybrids than are warranted by customer demand, he said.
“In 2008, there were 12 electrified vehicles offered in the U.S. market and it represented 2.3 percent of the industry,” Fields said in the interview. “Fast forward to 2016, there’s 55 models, and year to date it’s 2.8 percent.”
This isn’t exactly a formula for success, he said. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to have customers, so obviously, there would be pressure on the business if there’s not a market,” he said.
The No. 2 U.S. carmaker was one of the companies Trump singled out on the campaign trail for sending production to Mexico. The Republican threatened to slap a 35 percent tariff on cars Ford builds south of the border and ships back to the U.S.
After the Nov. 8 election, Trump phoned Executive Chairman Bill Ford to discuss the carmaker’s plan to move manufacture of the Lincoln MKC sport utility vehicle to Mexico from a plant in Louisville, Kentucky, Fields said. The discussion helped convince Ford to keep building the Lincoln in the U.S.
Trump influenced the decision “because of what he’s talking about in terms of his economic policies, whether it’s tax reform or otherwise,” Fields said.
Ford received no incentives for keeping Lincoln MKC production in Kentucky, but the automaker never planned to close that Louisville plant, which also builds the Escape SUV that outsells the Lincoln version by 12-to-1. Ford already makes the Lincoln MKZ sedan and the Fusion family car in Mexico. It’s building a $1.6 billion new small-car factory in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi, which will create 2,800 jobs there by 2020.
Ford still plans to move its Focus compact and C-Max hybrid to Mexico from a Michigan factory.
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