On Tuesday, Ford confirmed that it will invest $1.6 billion to build a new assembly plant in Mexico. The factory is slated to build the Ford Focus and one other car. Ford has declined to say what that other car might be, but Automotive News is reporting that global consulting firm AutoForecast Solutions says the other car will be called the Model E. AFS correspondent Sam Fiorani tweeted yesterday that the new car will be similar to the new Hyundai Ioniq. He says it will be sold in hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric versions.
— Sam Fiorani (@SamFiorani) April 5, 2016
Ford’s announcement has provoked a firestorm of criticism from Donald Trump. Just 4 hours after Ford confirmed its decision to build the new plant in Mexico, Trump issued this statement. “This transaction is an absolute disgrace. Our dishonest politicians and the special interests that control them are laughing in the face of all American citizens. When I am president, we will strongly enforce trade rules against unfair foreign subsidies, and impose countervailing duties to prevent egregious instances of outsourcing.” He called for renegotiating NAFTA “to create a fair deal for American workers.”
Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford of the Americas, told CNBC that the new plant does not mean Ford is moving jobs out of the U.S.
“We’re proud to be an American company. We’ve invested $10.2 billion here in the U.S. over the last five years and that commitment won’t change even as we expand around the world.” Ford CEO Mark Fields also weighed in with this statement: “We are a global, multinational company and we will invest to keep us competitive and we will do what makes sense for the business.”
Trump’s bombastic remarks overlook that General Motors and Chrysler both have a higher percentage of their cars manufactured in Mexico than Ford does. According to IHS Automotive, GM has about 12,000 hourly paid workers in Mexico, while FCA has 9,547 and Ford has 6,191. In 2015, 80% of Ford’s North American production came from its U.S. plants. By contrast, only 63% of GM’s North American production and 64% of FCA’s North American production came from U.S. factories.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown couldn’t resist getting his 2 cents in. He complained that corporations moving jobs out of the United States only to profit by shipping products back “is why people are so upset with corporate America that outsources so often.” Oh, really, Senator? And how many so-called “free trade agreements” have you voted for? All of them? Do tell, you mealy mouthed hypocrite.
While America is in the midst of one of the most superheated presidential campaigns in history, rest assured we will hear more from bloviating politicians who will say anything to get elected. The truth is, all of America’s finest legislators from both political parties have strongly supported the free trade movement for the past 20 years. Their actions have gutted the American manufacturing base and destroyed the American middle class. None of them should be sling mud at others. They are all culpable.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, I highly recommend Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, which exposes the lies and deceptions behind the free trade movement. H. Ross Perot warned us 20 years ago about the “giant sucking sound” that would be made by American jobs fleeing to Mexico if NAFTA was approved.
Few Americans realized these agreements would contract away the very sovereignty of our nation in pursuit of profits for the 1%. It is much too late for Donald Trump or anyone else to unwind NAFTA or any of the other free trade agreements without making America a pariah in the global economic community.
The only good news for Ford is that Trump’s outrage has completely overshadowed the fact that Ford is planning to build a Prius fighter called the Model E. We always wondered why it was so insistent on denying use of that name to Tesla Motors. Now we know.