TTAC News Round-up: Ford Is Building Cars in Mexico Because You Won't Buy Them

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Public disdain for small cars means Ford is going to take U.S. production behind the barn and shoot it.

That, Toyota practices good corporate citizenry, Honda worries it can’t build enough CR-Vs, and BMW Films returns with a new action-drenched short starring Clive Owen and the new 5 Series… after the break!

Ford is abandoning the small car in the U.S. and Mexico gets the scraps

Changing consumer preferences has led to Ford’s plan to end small-car production in the U.S. by 2018. With incentive spending now higher than ever on cars, the company has finally said enough is enough.

“You can only go so far in terms of trying to entice customers to purchase those kinds of products,” Ford CEO Mark Fields said in an interview with Automotive News. “We’ll focus on some of the segments where customers are migrating towards, whether it’s SUVs or pickup trucks, and we’re doing nicely there.”

Ford is still going to make small cars, but they will be produced in Mexico.

The plan isn’t meant to eliminate American jobs — it’s merely a shift of production priorities. For the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, that means no more C-Max and Focus. Instead, Ford should be repurposing the facility to produce the returning Ranger pickup and Bronco SUV. Fields didn’t confirm those vehicles specifically but claims workers there will be in a better position than they are today. Employees at the Michigan Assembly Plant have dealt with week-long layoffs due to the reduced demand for small cars.

With the Escape SUV outselling the C-Max by 23,637 units last month, and basically every other month, the shift away from small cars shouldn’t be all that surprising. In a way it’s a homecoming for the factory, as it produced the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs until 2009.

Toyota is trying to make a good impression on Plano, Texas

As construction on its gargantuan new U.S. headquarters continues, Toyota is making the rounds and trying to be a good corporate neighbor. According to Automotive News, the company is teaming up with the city of Plano, Texas, where the headquarters is being built, along with local municipalities, businesses, and transit agencies to conduct a study on how to reduce traffic congestion and improve public transportation.

Toyota has already given a million dollar grant to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit District to subsidize taxis for disabled and elderly residents travelling to doctor appointments. DART took over the service from a private provider that had run aground with financial issues, but immediately ran into problems itself, having only enough funding to last another 90 days.

It makes sense for a company to put its best face forward when it’s moving house and Toyota knows exactly how to do so. The Toyota Mobility Foundation has previously collaborated with nonprofit organizations and governments on dealing with urban transportation challenges and personal mobility issues.

“The philosophy that we have is really all about this idea of shared value,” said Latondra Newton, CEO for the foundation. “We can actually do great things with others in society and make a significant impact, but also bring value back into our business.”

Honda can’t build CR-Vs fast enough

Honda sells a staggering number of CR-Vs and, despite its best efforts, cannot quite reach the industry-averaged 65 days worth of supply for light trucks. WardsAuto data shows CR-V supply in late September was only at 54 days.

To fix this, the company has already announced that it will send CR-V production to accompany the Civic in Greensburg, Indiana. The company also makes the immensely popular SUV in East Liberty, Ohio, and Alliston, Ontario. But CEO Takahiro Hachigo believes they could be doing even better in meeting demand. Hachigo told Automotive News that due to the forthcoming redesigned CR-V and updates on other models, Honda may consider exporting more vehicles from Japan — which often suffers from overcapacity.

“If overseas plant capacity is getting close to full, then rather than make a new investment, we might think about getting more supply from another global plant,” he said.

Like Honda, Subaru has also strained to meet demand as a result of increasingly good sales this year. Subaru’s U.S. market share has doubled compared to five years ago, and it could have done even better had it been prepared to meet the growing demand. Honda, which sells vehicles at a much higher volume than Subaru, knows this and doesn’t want to be caught with its pants around its ankles.

BMW Films takes us on another joyride

Back after a long hiatus since The Hire wrapped up in 2002, BMW Films’ first offering of The Escape web series went up on YouTube yesterday. It features Clive Owen reprising his role as the calmest BMW driver in existence and features Dakota Fanning mumbling nonsense in the backseat amidst one of the best getaways cinema can offer.

But Fanning is really more of a supporting character, Owen’s real co-star of the action-oriented short film is the 2017 BMW 5 Series. It hurdles down off ramps and gracefully skids around everything the police and generic baddies can throw at it. Although one does wonder how the protagonist managed to snag the new 5-Series before it has even gone on sale.

While it’s not big on character development or exposition, director Neill Blomkamp of District 9 fame was still thoughtful enough to include a story — and that story assertively crams about as much action as it can into the ten minute runtime.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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2 of 21 comments
  • Zip89123 Zip89123 on Oct 24, 2016

    This is a no-brainer already sanctioned by Ford's unions, as Ford kept the high margin vehicles manufactured in the USA.

  • EBFlex EBFlex on Oct 25, 2016

    Ford isn't building cars here because, just like everything else they make, they don't know how to. The only way Ford knows how to increase the profitability of a vehicle program is to lower the quality of the vehicle. Cheap interiors, unreliable drive trains, poor headlights, etc. So a more accurate title would be, "Ford is moving small cars to Mexico because they can't lower the quality any further".

  • MaintenanceCosts It's not really much of a thought in the buying process. I would think twice about a vehicle assembled in China but other than that I really don't care. Looking at my own history, I've bought six new cars in my lifetime (I don't think choice of used cars says anything at all). I think the most patriotic of them were mostly Japanese brands. (1) Acura, assembled in Japan (2) Honda, assembled in U.S. (3) Pontiac, assembled in Australia (4) Subaru, assembled in U.S. (5) Ford, assembled in U.S. (6) Chevrolet, assembled in Korea
  • ToolGuy News Flash: Canada isn't part of the U.S.
  • Dave M. My Maverick hybrid is my first domestic label ever. It was assembled in Mexico with US components. My Nissan and Subaru were made here, my Toyota, Isuzu and other Nissan had J VINs.
  • ToolGuy "and leaves auto dealers feeling troubled" ...well this is terrible. Won't someone think of the privileged swindlers??
  • ToolGuy "Selling as I got a new car and don't need an extra." ...Well that depends on what new car you chose, doesn't it? 😉