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Ford going ahead with shift of small car production to Mexico: CEO

Ford Motor Co. is moving ahead with plans to shift production of small cars to Mexico from Michigan, while 'two very important products' will be built in its U.S. factories, chief executive officer Mark Fields told Reuters on Tuesday.

President-elect Donald Trump has been critical of automaker's plans

Mark Fields, the president and CEO of Ford Motor Co., speaks at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, Calif., on Tuesday. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Ford Motor Co. is moving ahead with plans to shift production of small cars to Mexico from Michigan, while "two very important products" will be built in its U.S. factories, chief executive officer Mark Fields told Reuters on Tuesday.

"We're going forward with our plan to move production of the Ford Focus to Mexico, and importantly that's to make room for two very important products we'll be putting back into Michigan plants," Fields said in an interview on the sidelines of the Los Angeles Auto Show. "There will be no job impact whatsoever with this move."

​President-elect Donald Trump has criticized Ford for the decision to shift production of Focus small cars to Mexico in 2018, and said he would consider levying tariffs on Mexican-made Fords.

Ford chairman Bill Ford Jr. said last month he met with Trump to discuss the issue. Ford has countered Trump's criticism, saying the automaker, founded by his great-grandfather, makes more cars and trucks in the United States than any other automaker.

Ford also is moving ahead with plans to use factory capacity in other markets to fill gaps in its U.S. lineup. Company executives used the Los Angeles auto show to promote a small sport utility vehicle called the EcoSport that the company plans to ship into the United States from India.

Demand plateau

"We already have the plants and investment in other parts of the world. It frees us up to make further investments in the U.S.," Fields said, pointing to the money invested to launch a new SuperDuty pickup at a plant in Kentucky.

Ford has cautioned investors that it sees demand for cars and light trucks hitting a plateau in the United States. Fields said heading into the last two months of the year "we are seeing a tougher pricing environment."

"We expect the industry to be about the same as it was last year, probably a little lower on the retail side, and a continuing competitive pricing environment," Fields said.

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