Trump takes credit for Ford move to keep Lincoln SUV at Louisvil - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Trump takes credit for Ford move to keep Lincoln SUV at Louisville plant

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter Thursday night to announce that Ford Motor Co. won't be moving a "Lincoln plant" from Kentucky to Mexico -- and to claim credit for "work(ing) hard" to change the company's mind.

But Ford was not considering moving either of its Kentucky plants -- both in Louisville -- to Mexico.

Instead, company officials said Friday that Ford had merely decided to keep making the Lincoln MKC crossover SUV at Louisville Assembly Plant off Fern Valley Road after 2019.

Ford had already committed to making the MKC at Louisville Assembly for at least the next three years, but the company had previously considered shifting production of the small SUV to its Cuautitlan, Mexico plant after 2019, Ford spokespeople said Friday.

The potential move of the MKC -- which accounts for less than 10 percent of the Louisville plant's volume -- was understood when the company agreed to a new labor contract last year with the United Auto Workers union, said Todd Dunn, president of UAW Local 862 in Louisville.

Moving the MKC was not expected to affect any jobs at Louisville Assembly, which primarily makes the better-selling Escape SUV, Dunn said.

Trump said he got the news about Ford's alleged decision not to move a Kentucky plant to Mexico from Bill Ford, the company's executive chairman. Bill Ford met with Trump during the summer and spoke with him on Thursday, Ford spokeswoman Christin Baker said.

In an email, Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker confirmed that the decision not to move the MKC production to Mexico is "about (what happens) past 2019." 

Ford's Baker said she didn't know when the decision was made or if Trump had any impact on it. It's possible the decision was made before the election, because Escape sales have been falling since July, so additional production capacity in Louisville may not be needed.

Ford temporarily shut down Louisville Assembly for two weeks in October and earlier this month because of slowing demand for vehicles, but the plant is now back running on three shifts, Dunn said.

Gov. Matt Bevin was quick to tweet his support. He said, "Two days ago, Donald Trump told me he was working with Ford to keep smaller vehicle production in Kentucky. Tonight, they delivered!"

"We are encouraged that President-elect Trump and the new Congress will pursue policies that will improve U.S. competitiveness and make it possible to keep production of this vehicle here in the United States," Baker said in an e-mail.

The development is the latest in a yearlong feud between Trump and Ford over plans to move production south of the border. The company plans to shift small-car production from suburban Detroit to Mexico to improve profitability of the lower-priced cars. CEO Mark Fields said Tuesday that the presidential election didn't change the company's plan.

Trump wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and has called for a 35 percent tariff on goods shipped from Mexico in an effort to preserve U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Ford plans to move production of the Focus and C-Max small cars to Mexico from a plant in Wayne, Michigan. But jobs at the Wayne plant would be preserved because it's getting a new SUV and small pickup truck.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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