Ford Motors Co. (F) just announced a $1 billion investment into its Chicago manufacturing facility that will add 500 jobs to the plants.
But with tariffs on automobiles going into China of about 15%, "we actually should see increased production in China," said Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president of global operations for Ford, dispelling any question that Ford may not increase production there. He said, "Our volume has dropped recently, due to the industry dropping," as the tariffs have weighed heavily on American-made automobile sales volumes in the country. He added that the plant capacity in China is "sufficient," so there likely won't be any new plant builds in the country any time soon.
As for Ford's ramped up production capability in Chicago, the company will produce several new sports utility vehicles; the Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator, and Police Interception Utility. And the plan for those vehicles isn't exactly to shy away from international markets, which haven't exactly been freed up as President Trump has taken the helm in the U.S. "The Explorer will go to probably around 80 countries when it's all said and done as an export vehicle," Hinrichs said. Specifically, Ford will target the Middle East, among several other geographies.
The $1 billion investment also highlights the increased broader industry investment, and therefore competition, in SUV's in the U.S. "Now, more than seven out of 10 vehicles sold in the U.S. are in trucks, vans, or utilities," Hinrichs noted.
"You are seeing more competition heat up, but we have strength in these areas," Hinrichs said.
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