News & Politics

Ford Motor Co. Reads Election Returns, Keeps Lincoln Plant in Kentucky *UPDATED*

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

How about that:

Amazing what a little #winning will do.

UPDATE: Trump-haters on both the left and the right immediately jumped all over the president-elect’s tweet last night, yipping that Ford never intended to move the Kentucky plant to Mexico, although it seemed clear that they were intending to move production of the Lincoln to Mexico. A quibble over a single word in a tweet.

This passage from a Bloomberg story, however, makes the situation clear:

“Just got a call from my friend Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford, who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky — no Mexico,” Trump wrote in a Twitter post.

Ford builds the Lincoln MKC small SUV at its Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky alongside the Ford Escape SUV. Ford had never said it was considering shifting MKC production south of the border. But the company confirmed Friday that it had been “likely” to move the work to Mexico in 2019 when its current contract with the United Auto Workers union expires.

“We had planned to move the Lincoln MKC out of Louisville Assembly Plant,” probably to the Cuautitlan factory in Mexico, Christin Baker, a Ford spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Oops. The WSJ has more:

Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford called President-elect Donald Trump to extend an olive branch this week, saying the Dearborn, Mich., auto maker is shelving a plan to move production of a Lincoln crossover SUV from Kentucky to Mexico. Mr. Trump tweeted about the call Thursday night and Ford quickly confirmed the move…

Mr. Ford’s call represented a genuine change in direction for the auto maker, not just a symbolic gesture, according to people close to the executive. The auto maker has been in contact with Mr. Trump’s transition team over the past 10 days, and executives see the Lincoln move as a relatively painless but authentic way to give Mr. Trump a victory even before he moves into the White House…

Importantly, Ford’s statement Thursday night indicated it is banking on Mr. Trump’s new economic policies to address the disadvantages that U.S. auto production carries. “

“We are encouraged that President-elect Trump and the new Congress will pursue policies that will improve U.S. competitiveness and make it possible to keep production of this vehicle here in the United States,” the company said.

In short, a good-will gesture in acknowledgement of the new political realities, with some economic effect. But of small victories like this are fundamental changes — let’s call them restorative changes — made.