Ford to move Focus production to China

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. will export vehicles from China to the U.S. for the first time starting in 2019.

Ford said Tuesday it plans to move production of its Ford Focus small car from the U.S. to China, where it already makes the Focus for Chinese buyers. Ford will continue to make the Focus in Europe, and will also export some variants of the Focus from Europe to the U.S.

Sales of small cars have dropped sharply in the U.S. and companies are seeking to cut costs making them. Ford’s president of global operations Joe Hinrichs said the move to China will save the company $1 billion, including $500 million for canceling plans to build the Focus in Mexico.

Wary of the response from President Donald Trump, who has criticized Ford for making vehicles outside the U.S., Ford said the move won’t cost U.S. jobs.

The suburban Detroit plant that currently makes the Focus will be converted late next year to produce the Ford Ranger pickup and Ford Bronco SUV.

Ford also said Tuesday that it plans to invest $900 million in its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville to make the new, aluminum-sided Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs. Those vehicles will go on sale this fall and will be exported to more than 55 markets globally, the company said. The investment will secure 1,000 jobs at the Kentucky plant.