Ford investing $1.2 bil in US auto plants


Ford announced Tuesday that it would invest $1.2 billion in three Michigan plants, part of a deal with its workers' union struck in 2015.

President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly singled out the auto industry and pressured them to keep plants and jobs in the country, foreshadowed the news in a morning tweet.

"Big announcement by Ford today. Major investment to be made in three Michigan plants. Car (HKSE: 0699-OL.HK - news) companies coming back to U.S. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!," the president tweeted.

However, United Auto Workers, the union representing Ford's workers, had secured a commitment from the company for $9 billion in investments in US plants, as part of its 2015 labor contract agreement.

But the Trump administration appeared to be taking at least partial credit for the news.

"Two weeks after @POTUS met with auto execs... Ford plans 'significant' investments in 3 plants," White House advisor Kellyanne Conway wrote on Twitter (Frankfurt: A1W6XZ - news) , using the common acronym for the US president.

Ford said the investments would be made in three Michigan locations, with $850 billion going to its Michigan Assembly Plant to retool it for making new Ranger pickup trucks starting late next year, and Bronco sport utility vehicles in 2020.

It also will spend $150 million to expand an engine plant, where Ford will create or retain 130 jobs, and $200 million to build a data center for the increasingly technology-heavy vehicles.

The news came less than two weeks after Trump visited Michigan, met with auto executives, and spoke of his aims to roll back auto regulations. The president hinted that a major announcement would be forthcoming.

But in jointly announcing the new investment, Ford and UAW clearly credited their 2015 labor agreement.

"Thanks to collective bargaining, the hard-working men and women at each of these locations will now reap the full fruits of their labor," UAW-Ford Vice President Jimmy Settles said in a statement.

The company in January announced a $700 million investment in its Flat Rock Assembly plant, where it will add 700 new jobs.

In criticizing free trade agreements and the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, Trump has previously singled out auto makers, and threatened tariffs on imported cars.

During his Michigan trip, Trump also announced that he is freezing future vehicle emission targets, responding to the auto industry's request that the new administration revisit rules implemented by the administration of Barack Obama.

Trump told a roundtable of automotive chief executives that he would help them if the relationship ran both ways.

"We're going to do some wonderful work with you but you're going to have to help us with jobs," he said.