Trump hits out at Ford's $2.1b Mexico foray
FORD Motor, criticised by Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump for manufacturing outside the United States, announced on Tuesday that it would invest US$1.6 billion (S$2.1 billion) to build more small cars in Mexico, starting in 2018.
Mr Trump labelled the investment in Mexico "an absolute disgrace".
"These ridiculous, job- crushing transactions will not happen when I am president," he said in a statement released by his headquarters.
Ford announced the investment in Mexico as Mr Trump, US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich competed in a primary in Wisconsin, seen as crucial in the race to become the Republican presidential candidate in the November election.
Mr Trump, who has criticised US companies for "sending jobs to Mexico", has singled out Ford for some of his harshest remarks.
But data indicates Ford builds fewer vehicles and employs fewer workers in Mexico than its Detroit-based rivals, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler's Chrysler unit.
A senior Mexican official said Mexico had stepped back from a high-profile announcement on the Ford plant to avoid stoking tensions in the US election debate stemming from Mr Trump's comments.
Joe Hinrichs, Ford executive vice-president and head of the Americas, said on Tuesday that the carmaker is investing more money in Mexico "to improve our small-car profitability".
In Detroit, United Auto Workers president Dennis Williams described the new Ford investment in Mexico as "a disappointment and very troubling".
Mr Hinrichs declined to say what products Ford plans to build at the San Luis Potosi plant - slated to open in 2018 and which will employ 2,800 people by 2020.
US supplier sources have said the plant is expected to build the next-generation Ford Focus compact, as well as a Focus-based hybrid gasoline-electric model aimed at rival Toyota and described as a "Prius fighter".
The investment had been rumoured for months.
Ford joins a growing list of carmakers investing billions in new production in Mexico, where lower labour costs and favourable currency exchange mean companies have a better chance of turning a profit on low-margin small cars.