Trump takes credit for saving Ford factory that was not closing


US president-elect claims he persuaded carmaker to keep Kentucky plant open but Ford says it never planned to axe it

Donald Trump has claimed he persuaded Ford to keep a Kentucky assembly plant open, despite the carmaker never having intended to close it.

The president-elect tweeted on Thursday:

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

Just got a call from my friend Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford, who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky – no Mexico

November 18, 2016

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!

November 18, 2016

Ford had planned to move production of the Lincoln MKC, a small SUV, to Mexico but had always intended to keep the plant in Louisville open to continue making another model, the Escape.

It was not clear how many jobs, if any, would have been lost, as the company was planning to expand production of the better-selling Escape at the plant.

After Trumps tweets, the company confirmed it would not be moving production of the Lincoln MKC from Kentucky.

A spokeswoman, Christin Baker, said: We are encouraged that President-elect Trump and the new Congress will pursue policies that will improve US competitiveness and make it possible to keep production of this vehicle [the Lincoln MKC] here in the United States.

She said she did not know when the decision had been taken or whether Trump had any influence on it. On Tuesday, Fords chief executive, Mark Fields, said the election result would not change the companys plans.

Mark Fields, president and CEO of Ford. The carmaker has repeatedly said it has no plans to close any US plants. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty

Ford has been locked in a year-long feud with Trump over plans to move production south of the border. The president-elect wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and has called for a 35% tariff on goods shipped from Mexico in an effort to preserve US manufacturing jobs.

Ford has attracted Trumps ire over plans to shift small-car production from suburban Detroit to Mexico to improve profitability of the lower-priced cars. As well threatening tariffs, during his presidential campaign the Republican candidate said he would not allow Ford to open a new plant in Mexico.

But the carmaker has repeatedly said it has no plans to close any US plants and it probably could not do so under the terms of the United Auto Workers contract that expires in 2019. It has also said no US jobs would be lost.

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It is not the first time Trumps comments about Ford production have been called into question. Last year he took credit for the company moving work from Mexico to Ohio, even though it had taken the decision in 2011, long before he announced a run for president.

In October the chairman, Bill Ford, said he had met Trump to talk about his extensive attacks on the carmakers investments in Mexico. He said Trumps criticism was infuriating and frustrating because of the companys extensive investments and employment in the US.

Ford employs about 4,700 people at the Louisville plant. It has sold about 20,000 MKC SUVs in the US this year, compared with 258,000 Escape SUVs.

Last month it said it would suspend production of the Escape and MKC at its Louisville assembly plant for two weeks because of low demand.

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