In a first, Ford to import Focus small car from China

Ford to export next Focus from China to US in 2019: executive

Earlier this year, Ford canceled plans for a new $1.8 billion small-car plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and said it would build the new Focus instead at an existing plant in Hermosillo.

Photo A Lincoln Navigator on display at the New York International Auto Show in April.

Given dwindling overall USA demand for small cars such as the Focus, "we thought this was the best balance of that cost/capital tradeoff", Hinrichs said.

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.

The Dearborn automaker said production of the next-generation Focus will begin in the second half of 2019, with most new North American Focus models coming from China initially with with additional variants coming later from from Europe. The Kentucky plant will add 1,000 hourly jobs to its current workforce of over 7,000.

Michigan Assembly will be converted to make the new Ranger pickup starting in late 2018, and the new Bronco SUV in 2020 once Focus production is moved. While critics of NAFTA say it has led to job losses in the USA supporters say it has fostered a stronger North American auto industry.

The investment will support production of redesigned Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport-utility vehicles.

The Ford Motor Company announced plans to invest $900 million in Kentucky Tuesday. U.S. Focus sales were down 20 percent through May, hurt by low gas prices and consumer preference for SUVs. GM became the first of the Detroit Three automakers to import from China. But over the last few months, Hinrichs said, Ford decided it could save another $500 million in tooling and other manufacturing costs if it moved production to China. It sells the Chinese made Buick Envision SUV and the Cadillac CT6 plug-in hybrid in the U.S.

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