Ford Focus to Become a Chinese Import for U.S. Buyers in 2019

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

There’s a good chance the next Ford Focus you purchase will have arrived via a slow boat from China. Despite abandoning assembly plans in Mexico earlier this year, Ford Motor Company has decided the next-generation model will remain an import, now by way of Asia.

Current Focus production in Wayne, Michigan will be eliminated in the middle of next year to make way for Ford’s upcoming Ranger pickup (in late 2018) and Bronco (in 2020). The automaker assures hourly workers they won’t suffer from layoffs resulting from the changeover, but admits to prioritizing its U.S. assembly plants for trucks and SUVs — vehicles Americans will actually buy.

Official production of the new Focus commences in the second half of 2019, with models coming from the company’s many small car plants across the globe. However, the majority of North American Focus models will initially will come from China, with additional variants eventually sourced from other countries.

For North America, that means further emphasis on trucks and more investments into the segment. In addition to the Ranger and Bronco, the automaker announced it will dump $900 million into its Louisville plant for the new Ford Super Duty, Expedition, and Lincoln Navigator. The Blue Oval was careful to state the investment secures jobs for workers at the plant, potentially as a way to take heat off the China deal.

The joint-venture in Chongquing could be an intelligent strategy. On the surface, abandoning the $1.8-billion development for a small-car plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico for a Chinese solution seems like a lateral move. China requires partnerships and direct involvement for any outside automakers that want to do business within its borders, and Ford will likely receive some negative attention from the Trump administration for outsourcing production.

However, teaming up with China saves the automaker $1 billion in investment costs against the original Focus production plan. It also helps open the door for additional opportunities within the Chinese market, mainly vehicle sales. Ford wants to up SUV volume worldwide and has recently taken steps to get the Navigator into China.

“Large SUVs are attracting a new generation around the world – and we’re finding new ways to deliver the capability, versatility and technology that customers around the world really want with our all-new Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator,” said Ford’s head of global operations Joe Hinrichs. “At the same time, we also have looked at how we can be more successful in the small car segment and deliver even more choices for customers in a way that makes business sense.”

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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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  • Akear Akear on Jun 21, 2017

    It is obvious now Fields was fired because he would not go through with this travesty. Unfortunately, Trump and his followers don't have the intelligence to follow these issues carefully. It is very easy to pull the wool over their eyes.

    • JimZ JimZ on Jun 21, 2017

      "It is obvious now Fields was fired because he would not go through with this travesty." Obvious to whom?

  • JerseyRon JerseyRon on Jun 21, 2017

    Was recently car shopping and found this site when searching for reviews. Want to say that I enjoy reading the comments here unlike most sites where the comments are usually unproductive to say the least. Related to Fords and foreign assembly, I noticed when shopping that the Monroney sticker for Fords did not include Parts Content Information. That information was shown on a separate sheet affixed to the opposite rear window.

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  • TooManyCars VoGhost; I was referring more to the Canadian context, but the same graft is occurring in the US of A and Europe. Political affiliation appears to be irrelevant.
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