Ford will build electrified vehicles in U.S. after canceling Mexico plant
DETROIT -- Ford Motor will cancel its $1.6 billion assembly plant in Mexico, instead investing $700 million in the U.S. to bring to market 13 electrified vehicles.
The plans include an F-150 hybrid pickup, a Mustang hybrid and a full electric SUV with a 300-mile (480 km) range. The SUV will launch in 2020 and will be sold in North America, Europe and Asia. It will be built south of Detroit in Flat Rock, Michigan.
Ford is expected to call the SUV the Model E. Tesla CEO Elon Musk wanted to use the Model E name for the Model 3, but he was unable to secure the naming rights from Ford, which has owned the patent for some time.
The F-150 hybrid will be available by 2020 and will be sold in North America and the Middle East. It will be built at Ford’s Dearborn truck plant.
The Mustang Hybrid will be produced at the Flat Rock plant and will be available initially in North America in 2020.
The other vehicles include a high-volume autonomous hybrid vehicle for commercial or ride-sharing service. The vehicle will debut in 2021 in North America and will be built at the Flat Rock plant.
Ford will also launch a Transit Custom plug-in hybrid in 2019 in Europe. Ford did not say where the Transit plug-in will be produced.
Ford in December 2015 announced plans to invest $4.5 billion in electric car research and add 13 electrified vehicles to its lineup by 2020. On Tuesday the company announced details for about seven of the 13. To support this, Ford plans to invest $700 million and add 700 direct new jobs in the next four years.
The Mexico plant had been slated to build small cars; it’s unclear where that small car production will go.
Ford had come under harsh criticism from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump for its Mexican investment plans. Trump has threatened to slap Ford with a 35 percent tariff on any vehicles it imports from Mexico, as well as renegotiate or pull out of the North America Free Trade Agreement.
Ford CEO Mark Fields on Tuesday said the decision to cancel the new plant in Mexico was in part related to the need to "fully utilize capacity at existing facilities" amid declining sales of small and medium sized cars such as the Focus and Fusion. Fields also used the occasion to endorse "pro growth" tax and regulatory policies advocated by Trump and the Republican led Congress.
Trump repeatedly said during the election campaign that if elected he would not allow Ford to open the new plant in Mexico and would slap hefty tariffs taxes on imported Ford vehicles.
Trump also targeted GM in a tweet on Tuesday, threatening to impose a "big border tax" for making its Chevrolet Cruze model in Mexico. In response, GM reiterated that Cruzes built there will mostly go to the domestic market and that it will continue to build the compact in the U.S.
Ford’s electrified-vehicle announcement was made the same day that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles revealed plans for an all-electric minivan concept, called the Chrysler Portal, that gets 250 miles of range. The automaker recently began selling a hybrid version of its Chrysler Pacifica minivan.
General Motors is also making headlines for its Bolt EV, which went on sale in California last month and boasts 238 miles of range. It comes out a year before the planned release of Tesla’s much-hyped Model 3, the California automaker’s own 200-plus range EV.
Ford also said Tuesday that it is moving production of the Focus sedan -- which was supposed to go to the new Mexican plant -- to its existing Mexico plant in Hermosillo.
Reuters contributed to this report