DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is shifting production of an all-electric vehicle to Mexico, while saying it will create 850 new jobs by continuing production in Flat Rock, Mich., of the Mustang, Lincoln Continental and an autonomous car it wants to sell to delivery fleets beginning in 2021.
Last March, the Dearborn-based automaker announced plans to not build a new plant in Mexico, and adding both the electric vehicle and the hybrid autonomous vehicle in Flat Rock. That plan, which Ford said would create 700 jobs, was formulated after President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the North American Free Trade Agreement and ridiculed automakers for making any vehicles in Mexico.
The United Auto Workers union said Thursday that the latest decision by Ford to produce the EVs in Mexico will not result in fewer jobs at home because the union already negotiated future job commitments.
“During the 2015 negotiations with Ford, we secured significant product investment for our members at the Flat Rock assembly plant and other manufacturing facilities in the U.S.,” said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles. “Yesterday’s announcement by Ford to expand production of autonomous vehicles at Flat Rock, and move a low-volume electric SUV to Mexico does not affect our jobs or economic investment commitments.”
The labor union represents 59,000 Ford workers.
While the UAW is never thrilled with manufacturing in Mexico, automakers, regardless of whether they’re based in the U.S., Japan, South Korea, or Germany, are producing more small passenger cars in Mexico or other low-cost countries.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles stopped building its midsize Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart altogether.
The exception is General Motors, which is assembling its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt, including self-driving units, at its Orion Township plant in Oakland County and splits production of the Chevrolet Cruze compact between Mexico and Lordstown, Ohio.
Ford has dropped a flurry of news in recent weeks in an effort to change the perception within the industry that it is trailing General Motors and Google’s Waymo spinoff in the race to introduce a reliable and safe autonomous vehicle for ride-sharing purposes.