Ford has come a long way in defending itself from targeted attacks and threats by President-elect Donald Trump, and CEO Mark Fields is now taking his company’s position as the top automotive manufacturer in America to lay down some ground rules.
After confirming that it would be moving its small vehicle production from Michigan to Mexico, being threatened by then-candidate Trump with a 35 percent tariff on the vehicles manufactured at the new Mexican plant and imported to America, and then having to publicly explain to Trump and much of America that the jobs are not leaving the Michigan plant, but instead being replaced by different assembly lines, Ford has had to toughen up its image and its attitude in the industry.
Trump also took credit for keeping two Lincoln manufacturing plants in Kentucky stateside, despite the fact that the plants were never destined to be shuttered. The plants manufacture both Ford and Lincoln models, the latter of which were planned to be moved to Mexico to make room for expanded production of the Ford Escape in Kentucky. Those jobs were never publicly in jeopardy.
Upon the realization of having to deal with President-elect Trump for however many years, Ford CEO Mark Fields promised his company would be “very clear” with its intentions going forward, according to an interview with Bloomberg.
From the interview:
“We will be very clear in the things we’d like to see,” Mark Fields said in an exclusive interview at Bloomberg offices in Southfield, Michigan. “We’ll continue to advocate for currency-manipulation rules to promote free and fair trade. One of our priorities is making sure fuel-economy standards reflect market realities, tax reform in general we would be very supportive of, and the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles.”
Fields added the condition that Ford is open to working with future economic policies aimed at keeping jobs stateside as long as they were industry-wide and not “special deals” with specific companies. Ford’s skepticism references President-elect Trump’s deal with Carrier, an appliance manufacturer, to keep just 300 of 1,400 jobs scheduled to be cut in Indianapolis by offering the company $7 million in state incentives.
Fields’ “special deals” condition also applies to Trump’s targeted threat of that 35 percent tariff against Ford models imported from Mexico.
“If a tariff was imposed, it would be imposed on the entire industry, not just singling out a single company,” Fields said. “When you look at the production and supply chains and how they’re integrated between the three countries” — Mexico, Canada and the U.S. — “putting a tariff on that would have a negative impact on all the economies.”
Ford is the top automotive manufacturer in the U.S. and the second largest American automaker, employing more than 85,000 Americans. For a good idea of Ford and CEO Mark Fields’ outlook on its future with Trump, this quote from a conversation with Automotive News earlier this month should paint the picture:
“We have a proven track record of working with policymakers going all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt,” [Fields] said. “We expect to work very effectively and positively with the president-elect’s administration, as well as the new Congress.”
They’re not going anywhere.