Even before Ford officially announced the return of the Ranger for 2019 and the Bronco for 2020, we suspected those vehicles would be built in Michigan at the plant that currently makes the Focus. We didn’t know where Focus was going, but we had assumed Mexico.
Ford eventually made that announcement. See, they were building a new plant in Mexico to increase capacity, and that extra capacity was to be for the Focus.
A series of events occurred, including Donald Trump becoming President of the United States. He promised steep taxes on vehicles coming from Mexico. Ford claims that Trump had nothing to do with any of their decisions, but Ford eventually announced they were canning that investment in Mexico.
So where or where would the Focus be built? Car sales are slumping in the United States in favor of crossovers and SUVs, so it doesn’t make sense to dump a whole lot of money into the product. But a refresh is coming, and it has to be built somewhere.
Today we learned that somewhere is China.
According to Automotive News, Ford will save an estimated $1 billion by shifting production to China. Originally the move to Mexico would save $500 million, but Ford now claims an additional $500 million in savings by going to China.
Production of US-bound Focuses will begin in the second half of 2019 in China. According to the article, special variants might still be built elsewhere.
For example, the current Ford Focus RS is built in Germany, and if the car is carried over after the refresh it’ll likely still be built there.
Ford’s Joe Hinrichs stated in a conference call, “we’ve done a lot of research and consumers care a lot more about the quality and the value than they do about the sourcing location.” He then cited electronics like the iPhone being built in China and people still buying.
China’s quality has improved
Build quality of products coming from China has improved over the years. Auto manufacturers are going to be sourcing more and more vehicles from the country, and if production plants there cannot meet the quality requirements of the manufacturer they’ll move elsewhere.
Volvo will be making their cars in China, and Buick has a product coming from there as well. It’s not surprising to see more automakers choose China, especially with uncertainty in the current state of NAFTA.
Would you buy a Chinese-made Focus, even if it was as good or better than the one you can get now? Let us know in the comments!