Ford will export new Focus from China to U.S.

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By Matthew Rocco  

Ford (F) said Tuesday it will shift production of its Focus compact car to China, not Mexico, beginning in 2019.

The decision comes more than five months after Ford revealed that it would scrap plans to build a new factory in Mexico, a plan that drew the ire of President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. Ford initially opted to shift production to an existing plant in Mexico, but now the company says it will build the Focus in China to serve North America and other markets.

By exporting the Focus from China, Ford expects to save $1 billion compared to its original production plan for the next generation of the compact sedan and hatchback.

Ford also announced on Tuesday that it will invest $900 million in its Kentucky Truck Plant, securing 1,000 hourly jobs. The investment will support production of redesigned Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport-utility vehicles.

When the redesigned Focus launches in the second half of 2019, it will mark the first time that Ford has exported vehicles from China to the U.S. Rival General Motors (GM) already has a Chinese-built model in its showrooms, the Buick Envision crossover.

Shoppers haven’t been deterred by the Envision’s origins. After reaching U.S. showrooms last year, the Envision is already the second-most popular model behind the smaller Encore. Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader, said the car-shopping website’s surveys have found that most consumers don’t put much weight on where a car was built.

“China is the biggest car market in the world. In this way, it made sense for Ford because they’re looking to become more efficient and cut costs,” Krebs added. “Especially with sales falling, they don’t need multiple plants [making the Focus].”

 

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