During his campaign, Trump claimed that Ford was going to fire US workers and move manufacturing to Mexico. That wasn't the case – yes, Ford planned to transfer Focus and C-Max production from Wayne, Michigan, to Cuautitlan, Mexico, but no, that wouldn't mean anyone losing their job. The Wayne plant will continue to operate, and likely busier than before, as it will be the home of the new Bronco and Ranger. So Ford CEO Mark Fields responded with the facts, and then chairman Bill Ford Jr. sat down with Trump over the summer. Things apparently weren't resolved to Trump's satisfaction, so he and Bill Ford spoke on the phone yesterday as he claims in this tweet:
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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2016
Let's pick that apart. First off, it's not a Lincoln plant, per se – the Louisville Assembly Plant currently builds the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC, two small crossovers that share a platform. Ford was considering moving MKC production out of Kentucky to Mexico, but it would not have resulted in many lost jobs if any – the union had already agreed to moving the MKC in 2015 negotiations, and taking production of the slow-selling Lincoln out of the plant would open up capacity for more Fords. Be that as it may, Ford has decided not to move MKC production out of the plant, either for political reasons of placation or because it didn't make the greatest deal of business sense, maybe a combination of the two.
That means Trump isn't really saving any American jobs in the short term. If anything, this move could keep Ford supply-constrained and result in reduced sales, which in turn brings the company less money and affects the bottom line and all employees. But that's speculation, so we won't tweet it. There is of course the possibility that Ford will be convinced, either by sheer will or by a more attractive trade situation, to invest in increased US production, which could bear fruit later on.
We are told by Ford that the two men did in fact speak yesterday. Whether or not they consider each other good friends is unknown. A statement from Ford confirms that the MKC is not moving and that Ford is "encouraged" by Trump's proposed policies:
We continue to engage with President-elect Trump's team – and the new Congress – as they shape the policy agenda for 2017. We have shared our commitment to continue investing in the U.S. and creating American jobs – building on the $12 billion we have invested in our U.S. plants and the nearly 28,000 U.S. jobs Ford has created in the past five years. Ford continues to employ more American autoworkers and produce more American made vehicles than anyone.
Today, we confirmed with the President-elect that our small Lincoln utility vehicle made at the Louisville Assembly Plant will stay in Kentucky. We are encouraged that President-elect Trump and the new Congress will pursue policies that will improve U.S. competitiveness and make it possible to keep production of this vehicle here in the United States.
We will have more details to share on our future plans at the appropriate time.