DETROIT (Jan. 3, 2017) — Ford Motor Co., following months of withering criticism from President-elect Donald Trump for expanding operations in Mexico, said today it will cancel plans for a $1.6 billion assembly plant in Mexico, instead investing $700 million in the U.S. to bring to market 13 electrified vehicles.
The plans, in part, include an F-150 hybrid, Mustang hybrid and a fully electric SUV with a 300-mile electric range.
Ford in December 2015 announced plans to invest $4.5 billion in electric car research and add 13 electrified vehicles to its lineup by 2020. Today it announced details about seven of the 13.
The new fully electric small SUV will be coming by 2020 and will be built in Flat Rock, Mich.
The other vehicles include a high-volume autonomous vehicle for commercial or ride-sharing service; a Transit Custom plug-in hybrid; and two new pursuit-rated hybrid police vehicles.
To support this, Ford plans to invest $700 million and add 700 direct new jobs in the next four years. The Mexico plant had been slated to build small cars; it's unclear where that small car production will go.
Mr. Trump has threatened to slap Ford with a 35-percent tariff on any vehicles it imports from Mexico, as well as renegotiate or pull out of the North America Free Trade Agreement. Mr. Trump also targeted General Motors Co. in a Jan. 3 tweet, threatening to impose a "big border tax" for making its Chevy Cruze model in Mexico. In response, GM reiterated that Cruzes built there will mostly go to the domestic market and that it will continue to build the compact in the U.S.
Ford's electrified-vehicle announcement comes the same day Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to reveal an all-electric minivan concept, called the Chrysler Portal, that gets 250 miles of range. The auto maker recently began selling a hybrid version of its Chrysler Pacifica minivan.
General Motors is also making headlines for its Bolt EV, which went on sale in California last month and boasts 238 miles of range. It comes out a year before the planned release of Tesla's much-hyped Model 3, the California auto maker's own 200-plus range EV.
Ford CEO Mark Fields in May confirmed Ford was developing an electric vehicle with range comparable to the Bolt, Model 3 and next-generation Nissan Leaf.
Ford said it is testing a fleet of 20 Transit Connect hybrid taxi and van prototypes.
Asked whether the auto maker intended to offer an EV with a 200-mile range, Mr. Fields said Ford wants to be "among the leaders or in a leadership position" as more auto makers introduce long-range battery-powered cars.
"Clearly that's something we're developing for," he said.
Ford is expected to call its 200-mile EV the Model E. Tesla CEO Elon Musk wanted to call the Model 3 the Model E, but he was unable to secure the naming rights from Ford, which has owned the patent for some time.
Michael Martinez is a reporter with Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.