By on November 18, 2016

2015LincolnMKC_01

Ford’s Louisville, Kentucky assembly plant will continue to crank out Lincoln MKC crossovers, rather than head down south for a Mexican vacation.

The news, which Ford confirmed after an enthusiastic President-elect Donald Trump tweeted it, means the automaker will need to look elsewhere for more Escapes. It doesn’t, however, mean a factory closing was averted.

Louisville Assembly currently builds the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC, but production of the littlest Lincoln was scheduled to go elsewhere once the automaker’s UAW contract expires in 2019. According to Automotive News, Ford spokeswoman Christin Baker had previously said the likely destination was the Cuautitlán assembly plant in Mexico.

Not anymore. In a tweet posted last night, Trump stated, “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.”

Ford has confirmed that the MKC will remain in the Bluegrass State.

Critics pounced on the president-elect’s word usage and declared the tweet misleading, as the Louisville plant — which employs about 4,700 workers — was in no danger of closing. Simply swap out the word “plant” for “assembly” in Trump’s tweet, and there’s no problem. Semantics aside, what does the change in heart mean for the Escape?

The planned MKC move was supposed to free up plant space to boost production of the popular compact crossover. If it wants more Escapes for the domestic market, Ford will need to find space elsewhere. However, it might not have to — at least for now. North American Escape sales reached a plateau in 2014, and despite the popularity of crossovers and SUVs, overall new vehicle sales in the U.S. are on the decline. MKC sales haven’t budged beyond the high-water mark set last year.

Of course, the revamped production plans concern the next-generation Escape and MKC. The marketplace could change by then, and Ford could find itself with extra demand for updated models. Interestingly, a production forecast prepared last year by accounting firm UHY LLP shows Ford Escape assembly added to the Cuautitlán, Mexico plant, with production starting in December of 2018.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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49 Comments on “Lincoln MKC Assembly Stays Put in Kentucky, But Trump Muddies the Waters...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Prediction: Ford will continue to use both US and Mexican locations for assembly by 2018 but any Ford plans to completely move FWD based car production to Mexico will not be implemented.

    • 0 avatar
      krohde

      Based on what? The UAW has already confirmed the Wayne plant where the Focus is produced is going to build the Ranger and Bronco instead…and there’s no other plant in the US for Ford to produce it. Focus is going to Mexico like they’ve said all along and no jobs are going to be lost as part of that. Yes, I realize no jobs are being gained in the US either.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Because it will become a political issue and Ford will be made to pay if they follow through with it.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          It’s a political issue whose outcome is far from clear cut, 28. A LOT of corporations are doing the same thing Ford’s doing in Mexico, and Trump’s “plans” (assuming they’re not just more hot air) will make their wallets lighter.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Ford has been Trump’s focus though. It is a very effective tactic.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I’d say it’s effective from an image standpoint, Adam. Whether it actually does anything to improve our trade balance with Mexico is another matter entirely.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            I don’t know that it will. However, Ford building a plant in Mexico is something that people understand and recognize. He’s picked the right target to get the American people on his side. Hopefully it leads to policy that will create American jobs, but I’m not holding my breath.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree, but because this has gotten such exposure Ford (and perhaps Carrier) will be made an example of over it in order to stem the tide of such behavior. The outcome which allows both sides to save face will be one where there is joint production of all models in both the US and Mexico (or where most are produced as such, perhaps one model will be Mexico only and the rest shared). I’m not sure about you but I don’t get a credit for Mexican assembly/origin vs US, any savings are retained as direct profit to the mfg.

            In my eyes third world assembly is a risk hoisted upon me as a consumer through a collusion of greed and gov’t incompetence. So its cheap, but is it really cheap? Back to another thread but that $7.99 item at Wallyworld had a true value of $1.00-1.50 before export costs, wholesaler markup, and finally retail markup. This is a serious problem because consumer goods are made so poorly now. If I use a blender twice daily, how many cycles will I get out of it? Oh but its cheap I will just buy another, so in a five year span I might have to buy it twice? Oh so I’ll just buy the magic bullet for $200, wait its Chicom crap as well?

            Here is the problem explained:

            “I estimate that the COGS without labor or shipping is $16.89 — yet Beats is able to successfully retail these headphones for $199+. This is the power of brand. Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine have leveraged their personal backgrounds and a sleek design to launch a remarkable brand that’s become fundamental to music pop culture.”

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-einstein/we-took-apart-some-beats-headphones_b_7639618.html

            So, $200 for a $20 item. Whats the true cost of a Ford?

            I also agree with both your further points.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Adam Tonge
            I think Automation or complete Automation of new plants of new plants could cause many job losses in the US, especially for semi skilled or unskilled employees

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            If you need a blender, but a Vitamix. They are made about ten miles from the Ford plant that makes the 3.5TT V6.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            RobertRyan-

            No kidding. That’s been happening for decades.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Adam Tonge
            No, I am not talking about gradual,Automation in the Automobile industry, but new plants with only Managers and maintenance staff

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      The Focus/C-Max are going to Mexico. That is done. There is nowhere else to build it in the US unless Ford builds another US plant (or expands an existing plant).

    • 0 avatar
      boost135

      So you’ve provided volume prospective on what was lost in this deal (potential of extra Escape production), but have remained silent on the volume of gain.

      How is the MKC doing in the luxury CUV market? Was this the equivelent of gaining Acura RL production in Ohio or is this CUV standing up to X3, Q5 etc?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I read somewhere it only sold about 12K examples this year. Wiki says peak sales were 24K units in 2015.

        Calendar Year American sales
        2014[5] 13,077
        2015[6] 24,590

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_MKC

  • avatar
    brettc

    Yay, 4 more years of these easily verifiable quarter or half truths.

    I wonder when we’ll hear another rant about moving small car assembly to Mexico even though they’ll be building vehicles people will want to buy at Michigan Assembly.

  • avatar

    So trump prevented a vehicle from going to Mexico that was never going there anyway. Ford is still moving small car production to Mexico. So what was accomplished? I the guess the answer is nothing at all.

  • avatar
    Rochester

    Once again, the Orange Nazi tweeted a series of self-congratulatory lies. America’s shame is only just starting.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Orange Nazi? That’s a new one. /s How long did it take you to come up with that one?

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Trump is LITERALLY Hitler.

        or something…

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          What exactly did he lie about, Ford confirmed the story.
          Assembly vs Plant, if the assembly moves that still hurts jobs in America, the fact that the plant may stay there doesn’t keep those line workers with a job. If they add another assembly line in the same plant, in ADDITION to the current lines only increases those that need to be employed in America.
          http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/article/2607739/

      • 0 avatar
        Macca

        Remember, our betters have warned us that every Republican president since Reagan has been ‘the next Hitler’.

        • 0 avatar
          mtmmo

          WOW where are the ‘Moderators’? Rochester’s post is vile and inflammatory. The post should be removed and the account suspended immediately.

          What’s next calling the current President the ‘N’ word!?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            In fact, there have been quite a few “conservatives” who compared Obama to Hitler too. So I guess Trump gets to ride the Godwin barrel over the falls like Obama did.

            And I use “conservatives” in quotation marks because actual conservatives are blessed with an actual functioning brain, and have figured out that Obama’s about as far from Hitler, or Lenin, or Stalin, or any other dictator, as you can possibly get.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            “Orange Nitwit.” Fixed it for you, and made it more accurate in the process.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Rochester, if you actually compare Trump to a Nazi, it just means you need to repeat eighth grade history.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      Someone with fewer ethical qualms than I have could make a mint selling t-shirts with Bo and Luke in front of the General Lee (car tie in complete) holding oranges in upraised fists, heads down, 1968 Olympics cultural appropriation completed.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Hitler sent 11 million people to the gas chamber. But yeah…Trump making tweets you don’t like is on the same scale.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    President Tweet…LOL

    These next four years are gonna be entertaining, if nothing else.

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    This is a battle of the disingenuous.

    Ford has been touting that moving Focus production to Mexico, no American jobs will be lost. This is true, but we are losing new jobs that would have been if Ford wasn’t building a plant in Mexico. At one time Wayne made both the Focus and a truck based vehicle (Expedition/Navigator).

    At the same time, Trump is claiming this as a victory and saying that HE saved the factory.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      With all the up and downtime that MAP experiences, do we really want small car production to remain here?

      Also where is all the cheering about a supplier building a new facility in Detroit on land that has been vacant for 15 years?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      What happens in the coming years if these more profitable models like trucks become less so? I think we are deluding ourselves by pretending not to know how this ends. If a model is profitable to make in Detroit or Kentucky, it isn’t even more profitable if you cut the labor cost to make it. The only risk is that a Hugo Chavez comes to power in Mexico and decides he wants a cut.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    How did Trump muddy the water? I don’t understand title of this post. If anything Trump is putting pressure on auto manufacturers and making them think twice about moving to Mexico. At the very least, I bet any can manufacturer will think twice before announcing any new plants in Mexico for import back to US. This is a cause to be thankful, not to make fun of, but I guess it doesn’t make for good headlines.

  • avatar

    According to the WSJ’s sources at Ford, this was apparently a peace offering extended to the incoming administration and that Ford is cultivating a constructive relationship with Trump:

    “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.”

    As for Trump falsely taking credit for keeping an entire assembly plant here, if you don’t have a problem with “You can keep your plan if you like it”, Trump’s exaggeration shouldn’t bother you.

  • avatar

    Few American companies want tariffs so they’re going to try to make nice to the Trump administration. News out of Foxconn is that Apple has asked their vendors to look into contingency plans for moving production to the United States.

    I disagree with Mr. Trump about the possibility of bringing back millions of manufacturing jobs. Currency manipulation and unfair trade practices aside, the main reason why we’ve lost so many manufacturing jobs is productivity and automation. The U.S. is manufacturing more stuff than ever, it just takes fewer human hands. I’d rather have a system that encouraged entrepreneurship and the creation of new businesses rather than chasing factory jobs that will disappear in China just as surely as they’ve disappeared here.

    Still, presidents and presidents-elect jawboning does have some effect.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “The U.S. is manufacturing more stuff than ever, it just takes fewer human hands.”

      I think this is incorrect in an important way Ronnie. People will always point to manufacturing output in dollar amounts and how that has risen, but this is skewed largely (I think) by high tech high value manufactured products (think jet engines and such), while our domestic production of lower end durable goods and things like appliances, automotive components, and electronics has dropped dramatically. Or looking at a figure like number of factories on a state by state basis, I think you’d be hardpressed to find a state where that number has risen. And I think that’s where the problem lies for a lot of people, and what Trump is talking about at all his rallies in down-and-out locales. Having said all that, I don’t have sources for this suspicion of mine, and will willingly be corrected.

      I definitely agree that productivity on a per-worker basis has skyrocketed, no arguments there at all.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        I think you’ll find that the number of manufacturing sites has increased significantly in many Southern states over the last ~20 years.

        If dollars are not the right metric for manufacturing output then what do you recommend instead? Gross tonnage?

        I submit that dollars are the right unit because the only reason that manufacturing exists as a human activity is to create value, and dollars are a pretty direct measurement of that. Jet engines *should* count for more than an equivalent mass of pig iron.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Perhaps something more nuanced, like graphs showing quantities of specific items overlaid on one another? Something like automobiles, appliances, consumer grade electronics, clothes, etc, etc.

          It’d be a pretty messy graph, but it could give a very quick snapshot of what industries are very much alive here in the States, and what has all gone overseas.

          It’s great that we make high tech high value stuff like that, but I contend that having a shoe factory or stove factory that has the same quarterly $$$ output as that jet engine plant probably employs more people.

          Ultimately what I’m trying to say is: why not have BOTH?

          As an aside, I had the distinct pleasure to be treated to a fried turkey lunch at a local plastic injection molding facility yesterday, and got to walk the floor for a bit. A lot of automotive pieces like LED lenses on headlights, intake tracts and airboxes. Fairly automated setups no doubt, but still plenty of floor personnel. My guess is that these folks are non-union, and not paid terribly well (on the order of $10-12/hr maybe?). Oh well, at least they got to bring their families in for fried turkey.

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