By on June 20, 2017

ford focus st, Image: Ford Motor Co.

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.]

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97 Comments on “Ford Focus to Become a Chinese Import for U.S. Buyers in 2019...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Make Focus Great Again.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    Word has already spread about the junk Focus automatic transmission, so feel free to send it to China since USA buyers know to avoid it. Instead of improving the product, Ford moves it elsewhere, and expects it to sell like the imported GM junk, which isn’t winning buyers either. Another Ford hatchet (Hackett) job.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    So…give them crap about building cars in Mexico and they build them in China again.

    Now, who could have ever seen this one coming?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I actually did not.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I did, ’cause I’m just that damn good. Or it was a lucky guess. Take your pick.

      • 0 avatar
        Ol Shel

        Me neither, but it kinda makes sense. Trump’s base isn’t making Chinese immigrants a focus of their anger. Nope, they hate Mexico.

        Trump gets to take credit for harming Mexican workers, with half-truths that suggest the Mexican closing will mean more American jobs, and the economic elite still get cheap labor and imported goods.

        It’s all a ‘reality’ show.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Pretty hilarious that the Cheezepuff took credit when Ford announced that they were halting the building of their new plant in Mexico, totally overlooking that Ford still intended to move production of the Focus south of the border to their Hermosillo plant.

          Not a tweet from Cheezepuff about Ford moving production of the Focus to China (gotta protect those trademarks that were fast-tracked for Cheezepuff by the Chinese govt.).

        • 0 avatar
          darex

          As opposed to your base, which hates FELLOW AMERICANS! Spare us your political analysis.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Making China Great Again

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Appalling. How low can the blue oval sink?

    Bet you don’t hear a word about it from the Blowhard In Chief, as he apparently got schooled by Xi Jinping on his visit. We haven’t heard anything about currency manipulation since.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      Word has it he is a little preoccupied with other matters these days…

      It will be interesting to see if he comments on it, though. He could use something to distract him from all of the investigations and legal what-not.

    • 0 avatar
      Groovypippin

      The Chinese instinctively knew the perfect negotiating strategy with Mr. Trump – make massive investments in businesses owned by his family and his his in-laws, the Kushners. The bad mouthing of China came to screeching halt immediately.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Not to mention fast-tracking those trademarks.

        Also, just needed to stroke Cheezepuff’s ego and tell him that how great he is (like any tin-pot despot).

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      “Appalling. How low can the blue oval sink?”

      Or more correctly – how much are Americans willing to pay for an econobox and if Ford was willing to keep Focus production in the US at a price point where the Focus would sell how much of that cost would F-series truck buyers be willing to subsidize in order to keep America great?

      I suppose the easy answer is to just abandon small car sales and focus(no pun intended) exclusively on CUVs/SUVs/Trucks/RWD Sedan but I’d guess there is still enough of a market for small cars in the US that its not worth abandoning albeit with that price issue at the crux of the problem.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    The Chinese imported horse left the barn a long time ago—-but c’mon.

    The only things made in America anymore will be weapons, Starbucks fraps—and ironically, German and Japanese cars (Korean too).

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      That’s incorrect. Tons of stuff is still made here. Industrial output is actually increasing. The problem is that modern manufacturing requires less labor.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I actually bought a new American made garden hose at Walmart and an Arrow brand staple gun at Lowes this past weekend (A Taiwanese Bostitch was $4 cheaper). Before that it was a Coleman cooler made in USA bought at Wally world, as well as a new shovel, again from Lowes, also made in USA. Chinese labor costs have been going up (aging workforce, rising incomes and standards of living), the Chinese are investing in robotics and automation like crazy right now as well. Especially with a reshoring/domestic business-friendly environment, I’d love to see a lot more factories come back. No they will not employ anywhere as many as they used to, but even a modern automated factory still has LOTS of jobs to be filled, lots of support functions and maintenance, as well as the construction of the facility itself. All of that ripples positively in terms of employment and wealth generation in the surrounding community as well.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        I guess you haven’t seen the factory where robots are making robots.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        I also try to buy as much American-made product as possible…despite how difficult it is now to find regular consumer products not made offshore. I have my reasons. China is neither friend nor ally. $300 billion (plus) in negative trade has given them a distinct advantage when it comes to their treatment of us, and their neighbors. If we instituted half of the protectionist practices they place on goods coming from us (or built by us there), the Chinese would absolutely howl in protest.

        One less car I need to consider gracing my driveway. And I rather liked the outgoing Focus…

        • 0 avatar
          onyxtape

          I do find that there is an increasing number of things that are being onshored again. Though a lot of this is questionable in my mind – there’s a lot of language like “assembled in USA with foreign components” or something like that. To me, that sounds like “snapped 2 final pieces together and shove it inside a box”. Or clothing that’s stitched together by Chinese or Filipino migrant workers on Saipan – but can be legally labeled “Made in USA”.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            My wife’s uncle who works at a sheetmetal stamping plant (non-OEM) in NE Ohio was telling me about a time an OEM (either Ford or Chevy I don’t recall) sent them some kind of larger part that was shipped from Mexico where all his crew was doing was putting three small insignificant spot welds on it, and boxing it back up. It was obviously some kind of scheme to up the percentage of “domestic” part content in the vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Done the same thing with luxury goods with the “Made in Italy” label, that is if it isn’t totally made by migrant Chinese labor around Milan.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      False. US manufacturing output (as measured in inflation adjusted dollars) is higher now than at any point in history.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        Output is high in absolute terms, but it is a smaller part of the economy.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I think especially important is that it is manufacturing in dollar value (think jet engines rather than toasters). We used to do lots of both, where small towns all over would have factories making various lower-cost items like appliances and durable goods. The mass exodus of that is what I’d really point to as the issue in areas hardest hit by high unemployment and the crime and drug issues that follow.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Small towns all over the lower Midwest maybe. Not so much in other parts of the United States.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            bumpy I’d say there was a lot of that kind of manufacturing all over. Lots of Southern tier/Western NY has been left quite poor and shabby by the loss of places like that. Unless more people return to more agrarian modes of income I don’t see a really feasible way out.

            Seymour Indiana has clung on to its ironing board factory miraculously, with a bit of protectionism to keep the Chinese boards in the same range of $30 or so. You can find Seymour ironing boards to this day in Wal-mart, they’re actually really nice sturdy things made out of decently stamped sheetmetal. Hard to find stuff that feels built quite like that anymore.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Ford Focus to Become Not Considered for Next Car in 2019

  • avatar
    NN

    Wow, this is a bit risky on Ford’s behalf. The Volvo S60L was a super-niche Chinese import. The Cadillac CT6 Plug-In is also a niche import from China, and will sell less than 1000 units a year. The Buick Envision was a medium sized attempt to import from China, but very softly launched, with a low-key marketing push. The Focus, on the other hand, will be the first true high volume car to be sold in the US as a Chinese import.

    To-date, the US has exported more cars to China than it has imported. Mostly BMW and Benz SUV’s (really), but also Jeep, Lincoln, Cadillac, Tesla, Buick Enclave’s, Mustangs, Explorers and more. In 2019 that will change, when 200k+ Focus’ come here. China puts a 35% tariff on imported cars. It is only fair for us to reciprocate, or force them to drop their tariff now that they have built so much auto capacity.

  • avatar
    Tinn-Can

    Didn’t Honda do a Chinese Fit for Canada and it flopped? Do not want…

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Buy American: buy a Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Ironic.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        The reality is that even when they’re assembled in the USA, a lot of the Big Three cars and trucks are just so full of junk Chinese and Malaysian components. Give me a American-made Toyota with 70-80% American content with a smattering of high quality Japanese bits. I’ll admit they’re not quite as nicely made or finished as the “Golden Age” imported from Japan stuff, but that’s something I guess I’m willing to part with if it means more work for folks here in the US. Toyota in turn can take their Mexican made Tacoma and blow it out their ass. I wouldn’t buy one of the new 3.5L ones anyways I suppose regardless of its origins.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Why no 3.5?

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Totally mismatched for the application. In the midsize truck field, I wholeheartedly now endorse the Frontier, if only for them staying with a “real” truck motor (the burly VQ40). Chevy needs to stick the 4.3L into the Colorado, Toyota needs to wisen up and stick the dual-VVTi roller-rocker 270hp 1GR 4.0L from the 4Runner in the Tacoma.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Truck motors for trucks!

            GM 3.6 might make your Impala hustle, Toyota 3.5 might be perfectly matched to your Avalon, but keep BOF vehicles with motors designed for them!

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @gtemnykh
            Toyota has just dropped the 4litre V6 from the Hilux it did not sell well. Now they have the small entry level 2.7 Gas engine and the 2.4 and 2.8 diesels. In reality the 2.8 is the default engine for the Hilux

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            @PrincipalDan:

            Honestly, a combination of the 4.3L and 5.3L should just replace the 3.6L across the board. And the 6.2L should replace the 3.6T and 3.0T.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @ajla

            I see no more transverse V8s happening, which means GM would have to move away from wrong wheel drive to accommodate your request. They won’t as it would make too much sense.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Robert Ryan you have a totally different market. If we could buy diesel engine options without the insane markup and all the associated failure prone emissions equipment, I’m sure they’d be popular. As it is with out cheap gas, the 4.0L is a winner. Quiet and smooth, powerful, efficient enough, and very reliable and issue-free. Heck most people here lament the passing of a gas V8 option in the 4Runner.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            @28:

            My idea would be to have the 4.3L replace the 3.6L in the little trucks and all transverse applications while the 5.3L replaces the 3.6L in longitudinal installations and the 6.2L replaces the 3.6T and 3.0T.

            On the XTS V-Sport they could make a forced induction 4.3L or just drop that nonsense altogether.

            I get the “it won’t fit!” argument on the FWD 4.3L going from 60 to 90 degree, but GM’s pushrod architecture is compact compared to their DOHC so I wonder how much the difference really is.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I think in practice GM is very conservative with it’s drivetrains for trucks, but for GM car I don’t think they care as much or perhaps the requirements are simply different. So for trucks, longevity and reliability over say performance are key where for “car” the requirements might be performance and fuel economy over longevity/reliability. Cost may also be an issue, we know there is decent margin in BOF trucks, but for unibody cars is it as much?

        • 0 avatar
          anomaly149

          @gtemnykh, the economics of shipping larger assemblies from China don’t work out. Piece parts and things that cost virtually nothing to ship (screws, little funny shaped metal brackets, plastic push pins, etc.) from China are one thing, but no really large assemblies come over due to tariffs and shipping costs. Most of what you see in cars is bits from all over the globe put into assemblies all across NAFTA, and into bigger assemblies not that far from the assembly plant. Most of the high value add stuff is still done in NAFTA these days.

          Also, quality is pretty level these days, what with global suppliers. Japan and Europe don’t make anything that much better than India or Brazil, cuz it’s all Mitsui making it.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            GM’s outsourcing of electronic module/circuit board printing and headlight assembly to China absolutely devastated Anderson Indiana and parts of Kokomo. Stuff like bearings, water pumps, brake rotors, etc is mostly Chinese and Malay on GMs these days. Go to the dealer to get parts for a full front brake job for a Silverado and conversely a Tundra, it’s an eye opener (spoiler: all the ‘yota stuff is made in USA)

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            anomaly,
            I do believe the Getrag MT82 manual gearbox in the Mustang is Chinese.

            A gearbox is a significant part of a car.

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            “GM’s outsourcing of electronic module/circuit board printing and headlight assembly to China absolutely devastated Anderson Indiana and parts of Kokomo.”

            Wrong.

            The GM trucks lighting was given to Valeo and Automotive Lighting. Both are sourced from Mexico; just like other brands.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “The GM trucks lighting was given to Valeo and Automotive Lighting. Both are sourced from Mexico; just like other brands.”

            Okay, it was just the circuit boards/modules going to China then. The fact that the other outsourcing turned out to be Mexico just perfectly illustrates what people have been complaining about. To draw the Toyota comparison again: Toyota has a big light manufacturing/assembly plant in Lebanon, KY.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Yaris is built in Mexico (by Mazda) and part of the Tacoma supply is from Mexico as well.

      In addition, Toyota is building a new plant in Mexico and is planning on moving Corolla production south.

      Pretty much everyone is planning on moving their small car production to Mexico, if they hadn’t done so already.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “There’s a good chance the next Ford Focus you purchase will have arrived via…”

    Doesn’t matter. wouldn’t buy Mexican or Chinese. Don’t even care to read about many Fords since I know where they made.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Sadly it makes sense. There is little margin in the smaller cars, yet the tech and safety requirements keep piling on. Gotta make then as cheaply as possible. The small car market is in a major decline anyway, so why devote an extra plant to build them if it’s not necessary.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      dwford,
      You are correct.

      The only real saviour the US has is high income, cheap fuel and a raft of controls/tariffs protecting large vehicle production.

      Imagine if the Chinese earn the same with cheap fuel. Even US large vehicles would not be competitive.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    There was a former EIC here that believed that GM would be the first to import cars to North America. Too bad it was Honda and Volvo.

    However, with all of the recent political rhetoric we’ve had, I’m surprised Ford is bringing in Focii from China.

    I do believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg and more “domestic” manufacturers will do the same, very soon.

  • avatar
    deanst

    As much as people hate to hear it, force a manufacturer to build a small car with all the latest fuel efficiency and safety wizardry, and they will build it in a low wage country. The cars don’t command a price high enough to justify these costs, despite what the Eco weenies may say. ( And i say this as someone who only has small cars.)

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Honda seem having no issues building Civics here and in Canada. they also bring some from UK. so, no excuses for Ford

      • 0 avatar
        Rocket

        I’m not defending Ford in any way, but to be fair, Honda is not dealing with the UAW.

      • 0 avatar
        anomaly149

        The question really isn’t “can Ford afford to?”, it’s “should they build the Focus and C-max or the Ranger and Bronco at Wayne Assembly?”

        One has a marginal in the hundreds of dollars, one will likely clear 8 grand marginal.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        Nobody outside the firms know the true margins on any vehicle, but there did seem to be a lot of rumours that Honda was even losing money on the new civic. In any event, if people think it’s wrong to buy the Chinese made focus, Ford will reverse their decision as sales evaporate.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Honda builds the Fit and HR-V in Mexico.

        And don’t be surprised if Canadian production of the Civic ends in the near future, and possibly US production as well.

        Toyota is planning on moving Corolla production to Mexico and Nissan already builds the Sentra there.

        The Civic won’t be price competitive with the status quo.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      OK, deanst, so 168,000 people were forced to buy Focuses last year?

      Sorry, I don’t buy your “Ford is forced to make small cars” argument. The fact is that Ford – and almost every other manufacturer – makes them because there’s a market for them. And that market’s quite large, even if it’s shrinking.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Make China Great Again. This makes sense since Trump neck ties and suits are made in China. Trump seems to pick on Mexico, must really hate Mexico and Mexicans. For Ford it would be better to make these in Mexico especially with shipping costs much less from Mexico than China. From my observation I have found most Mexicans hardworking and willing to do many jobs that US citizens won’t do. I do not have a problem buying products made in Mexico. Ford needs to replace the double clutch transmission in the Focus even if it is a CVT. Not a big fan of the Focus but their automatic transmission is the worst feature of the Focus. Trump will make little mention of the Focus being made in China versus Mexico.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    “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.”

    Spin it, Ford. Truth is, those other things were going to happen anyway. We would have been better off with the Mexico plan. I already don’t like this Hackett guy.

  • avatar
    Farhad

    “There’s a good chance the next Ford Focus you purchase will have arrived via a slow boat from China.”

    There is a better chance I will never buy such a car!

  • avatar
    taxman100

    I try not to buy products from communist states like China, California, New York, etc. (shoot, my last shotgun was made in New York – guess I’m not as ardent an anti-socialist as I thought)

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      China is “communist” in name only.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        The PRC is more “fascist” these days than anything else.

        As for Cali and NY, they’re more European socialist.

        Speaking of Cali, for a supposed “communist” state, Cali’s economy and its proportion to the US economy has only been growing.

        Without wealthy blue states that California and NY, the red states that siphon from the Fed treasury would be hurting even more.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      Were you able to find a mobile device OS from a “non-communist” state?

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar
    JerseyRon

    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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