Trump threats won’t change small car plans: Ford CEO

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Ford Mo­tor Co is go­ing ahead with plans to move small-car pro­duc­tion from the US to Mex­ico de­spite Pres­i­den­t­elect Don­ald Trump’s re­cent threats to im­pose tar­iffs on com­pa­nies that move work abroad.

CEO Mark Fields said Ford’s plan to move pro­duc­tion of the Ford Fo­cus from Michi­gan to Mex­ico will pro­ceed, in part be­cause US con­sumers de­mand low prices for small cars. The Fo­cus starts at $16,775, which is less than half the av­er­age price that US con­sumers pay for new ve­hi­cles.

“It al­ways has to start with the cus­tomer. The cus­tomer de­mands a cer­tain level of price and value in that seg­ment, and it’s im­por­tant for us as a com­pany to have fi­nan­cial suc­cess with that prod­uct,” Fields told The As­so­ci­ated Press in an interview Fri­day. But Fields stressed that no US jobs will be lost, since the Michi­gan plant that makes the Fo­cus will be get­ting two new prod­ucts. “If you’re a worker in that plant, you now have even more job se­cu­rity be­cause we have two prod­ucts com­ing in in­stead of one,” he said.

In a se­ries of tweets last week­end, Trump re­it­er­ated a threaten to im­pose a 35-per­cent tar­iff on com­pa­nies that build new plants abroad and sell prod­ucts back to the US. “The US is go­ing to sub­stan­tially re­duce taxes and reg­u­la­tions on busi­nesses, but any busi­ness that leaves our coun­try for an­other coun­try, fires its em­ploy­ees, builds a new fac­tory or plant in the other coun­try, and then thinks it will sell its prod­uct back into the US without ret­ri­bu­tion or con­se­quence, is WRONG!” Trump tweeted. “There will be a tax on our soon to be strong bor­der of 35 per­cent for these com­pa­nies.”

Although Ford wasn’t men­tioned specif­i­cally, Trump did tar­get the com­pany a num­ber of times dur­ing the cam­paign on the issue of trade and US jobs. Trump also praised Ford last month when the com­pany said it won’t go ahead with a plan to move pro­duc­tion of its Lin­coln MKC SUV from Ken­tucky to Mex­ico. Fields said tar­iffs can’t be im­posed on in­di­vid­ual com­pa­nies, only en­tire sec­tors, so they would wind up hurt­ing the whole auto in­dus­try. Nis­san Mo­tor Co, Gen­eral Mo­tors Co, Fiat Chrysler and Toy­ota Mo­tor Co are among the other com­pa­nies that ex­port Mex­i­can-made ve­hi­cles to the US.

Asked if he was wor­ried about Trump’s threats, Fields said, “Of course. We’re al­ways look­ing at what are the risks and op­por­tu­ni­ties are out there.” But Fields also said he’s op­ti­mistic that Trump sup­ports pro-growth poli­cies like tax re­form and reg­u­la­tory re­form that could help the auto in­dus­try.

“We strongly be­lieve that the right poli­cies are go­ing to pre­vail, be­cause I think we all share the same ob­jec­tive: We want a healthy and vi­brant US econ­omy and we’re go­ing to con­tinue to do our part to con­trib­ute to that,” he said.

Fuel econ­omy stan­dards

One area Ford and Trump could see eye to eye on is fuel econ­omy stan­dards. The com­pany crit­i­cized the US En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency last week for its rec­om­men­da­tion to keep reg­u­la­tions in place that would more than dou­ble au­tomak­ers’ fleetwide fuel ef­fi­ciency stan­dards by 2025. The EPA was sched­uled to make a fi­nal de­ci­sion in 2018, but rushed its plans into place be­fore Trump takes of­fice in Jan­uary.

Fields said Ford will make its ve­hi­cles as fuel-ef­fi­cient as pos­si­ble, and he noted that the com­pany needs to meet even stricter emis­sions tar­gets in China. But he said au­tomak­ers want to make sure the stan­dards re­flect mar­ket re­al­i­ties, like low­erthan-ex­pected US gas prices and ris­ing SUV sales. Fields said Ford plans to take up the issue with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. “We’re ab­so­lutely ded­i­cated to im­prov­ing the fuel econ­omy of our cus­tomers, but do­ing it in a way that pre­serves cus­tomer choice, that pre­serves ve­hi­cle af­ford­abil­ity and pre­serves Amer­i­can jobs,” Fields said. —AP

DEAR­BORN: Bill Ford Jr, Ford Mo­tor Com­pany Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man, speaks dur­ing news con­fer­ence on the 2015 F-150 pickup truck at the Dear­born Truck Plant in Dear­born, Michi­gan. — AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.