Mexico has solidified its status as a crucial link in the automotive supply chain, but presidential contender Donald Trump is not a fan of American automakers taking advantage of this NAFTA success story.
During a speech near Ford’s home turf in Michigan, Trump attacked Ford’s ongoing construction of an assembly plants in the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Guanajuato.
Bloomberg Politics’ Keith Naughton reported from the heart of the American automotive industry:
“Ford is building a $US2.5 billion plant in Mexico,” [Trump] roared to a packed auditorium in Birch Run, Michigan, and 2,000 voices responded with lusty boos. “I’ll actually give them a good idea. Why don’t we just let the illegals drive the cars and trucks right into our country?”
Mexico is a key future player for American vehicle producers because of proximity and cheaper labour costs. It is much closer than China, but in the cash-strapped and industrially ravaged part of Michigan, Trump’s audience was more interested in domestic jobs than in Ford’s ability to produce vehicles efficiently.
While America’s second-largest automaker is investing heavily in production facilities abroad, it is also attempting to keep many jobs at home on the payroll.
Ford this week announced a deal with the United Auto Workers union to produce medium- and heavy-duty pickup trucks, previously produced in Mexico, at a plant near Cleveland.
Ford sales rose 4.9% in July, 1.8% more than expected.