Who says elections don’t really matter?
Ford Motor Company this week ditched plans for new plant in Mexico and said it will invest $700 million to expand its Flat Rock, Michigan factory and hire 700 new workers. While the auto giant offered several reasons for the change, it was largely driven by what the company’s anticipation of a more pro-business climate under President-elect Donald Trump. Indeed, Ford CEO Mark Fields called the decision, “a vote of confidence” in the new administration.
Trump wants to dramatically roll back federal regulation of businesses and slash the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. He has also promised to get tough in foreign trade policy – threatening tariffs and suggesting that some deals should be renegotiated to give the US a better competitive position.
Trump frequently criticized Ford during the campaign for its plans to move some small car production to Mexico, a practice common among US automakers. In the wake of Ford’s announcement, it appears the President-elect has turned his fire on GM, which produces some of its Chevrolet Cruze vehicles in Mexico.
Ford’s announcement made for some strange bedfellows as United Auto Workers officials joined a GOP President-elect in praising Ford for keeping jobs in the US and making use of existing factories in this country.
While regulatory policies and public pressure do indeed influence some corporate decisions, the bottom line is always… the bottom line. Thus, Ford made it clear that it is not completely abandoning Mexico, and will actually expand one of its Mexican operations to begin building the Ford Focus. That will add 200 jobs south of the border.
This latest round of rejiggering is also powered by Ford’s belief that the demand for electric vehicles is growing. The newly-expanded Michigan plant will be used to build electric and self-driving cars. Ford has 13 electric vehicles in the pipeline, seven of which will debut in the next five years. Among those projects: a fully electric SUV with a 300-mile range and hybrid versions of the Mustang and F-150.
Combining innovation with pro-business policies to fuel economic growth. What a concept. Wonder why no one thought of that earlier?