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Ford Scraps Plans For Mexico Plant In Surprise Move


Ford Motor Company is scrapping plans to build a new car plant in Mexico. President-elect Donald Trump had repeatedly criticized the car company for moving production there. NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: President-elect Donald Trump has singled out several individual companies. Ford, though, has come in for some special treatment. Trump threatened if Ford built the proposed plant in Mexico...


DONALD TRUMP: Every car and every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border - we're going to charge you a 35 percent tax, OK?


GLINTON: That was in the summer. Ford and its CEO, Mark Fields, have repeatedly gotten into verbal sparring matches with the president-elect. In an interview today with NPR, Fields says business was the main factor in his decision making.

MARK FIELDS: Well, the main reason that we're canceling our $1.6 billion new plant in Mexico is essentially because we've seen market demand here in North America for small cars drop off pretty significantly.

GLINTON: I mean you've been essentially president-elect Donald Trump's whipping boy for quite some time, and it looks like politics to a casual observer.

FIELDS: Well, it could look like that to a casual observer, but at the end of the day, you know, we have to do what's right for our business. We have to answer to our shareholders.

GLINTON: Instead of building a new plant in Mexico, Fields says Ford will invest in facilities in Michigan, adding about 700 jobs. When asked to quantify how big of a role the president-elect's tweeting and cajoling went into the decision, Fields couldn't give a percentage.

FIELDS: Clearly it was a factor. You know, we have a president-elect who said very clearly he wants to create a more positive business environment for manufacturing here in the U.S., wants to create pro-growth policies, and those things matter.

GLINTON: Kristin Dziczek with the Center for Automotive Research says Ford isn't losing out on that much by canceling its plans.

KRISTIN DZICZEK: Ford makes decisions based on business. They don't do it on politics. If it happens to make political sense, then they're going to make hay with it.

GLINTON: Meanwhile, I ask Fields how he and the company plan on dealing with the new political environment.

FIELDS: Simple answer - very carefully.

GLINTON: And then he gave a nervous laugh. Sonari Glinton, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sonari Glinton is a NPR Business Desk Correspondent based at our NPR West bureau. He covers the auto industry, consumer goods, and consumer behavior, as well as marketing and advertising for NPR and Planet Money.