On the campaign trail, Donald Trump frequently criticized and threatened Ford and other companies he said were moving American jobs to Mexico, and on Thursday, he claimed an early victory:
"I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky," the president-elect tweeted. "I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!" In a statement after the Trump tweets, Ford spokeswoman Christin Baker said Bill Ford "confirmed with the president-elect that our small Lincoln utility vehicle made at the Louisville Assembly plant will stay in Kentucky," adding that the company had been planning to move production of the low-selling Lincoln MKC to Mexico. But neither Ford plant in Louisville — a truck plant and the one that makes the MKC and the Escape SUVs — was at risk of closing.
Ford has sold some 20,000 MKCs in 2016 versus 258,000 Escapes, Reuters notes, and Ford has repeatedly said it has no plans to close any plants in the U.S. — and in fact probably couldn't under its current United Auto Workers contract, which runs through 2019. Moving MKC production to Mexico wouldn't have cost jobs in Kentucky, either, according to the auto union, because Ford would have expanded Escape production. "Whatever happens in Louisville, it will not lose employment," union official Jimmy Settles told The Detroit Free Press. "They cannot make enough Escapes."
"Now, thanks to Mr. Trump, the plant will make fewer Escapes," says Binyamin Appelbaum at The New York Times, "and more MKCs." In October 2015, Trump similarly took credit on Twitter for Ford deciding to build a plant in Ohio instead of Mexico, but Ford said no, it was still building the factory in Mexico. ("Trump appeared to be relying on information gleaned from an article posted on a website of a shop that sells business cards and door hangers," notes Jim Tankersley at The Washington Post.) In September, Ford said that it planned to move all small-car production to Mexico, and this week, after Trump's victory, Ford CEO Mark Fields said the company is still moving production of the Focus to Mexico from Michigan.