Ford to import Focus small car from China in 2019

Ford Motor Co. will export vehicles from China to the USA for the first time starting in 2019.

The Michigan-based vehicle manufacturer said its latest manufacturing plan will save the company $1 billion in investment costs versus its original “Focus” production plan, which was anticipated to make $500 million in savings.

The 1,000 new positions will be centered around building Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators, which are expected to be exported to more than 55 markets globally after being completed, the carmaker said. The Michigan plant that now produces Focus cars will start pumping out Ranger trucks and Bronco SUVs. Ford’s savings will come from canceling plans to assemble the vehicle at an existing factory in Mexico and a decision made in January to abort construction of a plant in Mexico.

Ford also said some future variants of the new Focus will be shipped later from Europe.

With its latest move, Ford has fully abandoned its strategy of relocating small-car production to Mexico that had been announced past year by then-CEO Mark Fields. Hinrichs said Ford planned to inform the White House this morning.

General Motors Co has been exporting Buick and Cadillac cars from China to the United States, as has Volvo Cars, a unit of Chinese automaker Geely.

Hinrichs said Ford remains a major exporter to China, shipping about 80,000 vehicles a year from North America.