WASHINGTON -- Top Ford Motor Co. executive Mark Fields late Wednesday defended company investments in Mexico as a long-standing and important part of the automaker's operations.
But Fields, president of the Americas for Ford, said that the company spends more than 90 percent its North American investment money in the United States, and he does not expect that to change "appreciably."
Fields declined to comment directly on published reports that Ford is planning to invest more than $9 billion over six years in new or expanded Mexican facilities -- even as it shutters U.S. factories and buys out as many as 30,000 U.S. workers.
The reports, first published in the Oakland Press, a Detroit-area daily newspaper, were based on a purported internal Ford document, said to be leaked to the media by a disgruntled company employee.
Automotive News also obtained a copy of the document but did not independently verify its authenticity.
Fields called the reports "speculation" and said he does not comment on speculation.
"I haven't seen the document they reference in the article," he said, claiming inability to confirm or deny the validity of its contents. "I've been in Washington all day."
He spoke Wednesday morning at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on U.S. automaker competitiveness and spent the rest of the day visiting Capitol Hill offices -- before meeting reporters for dinner.
Fields said the reports of company plans for expanded investment in Mexico did not come up in his congressional meetings.
In the document, the company acknowledges that the new Mexican investments -- in assembly and powertrain plants -- would be unpopular with unionized U.S. and Canadian autoworkers.
Asked if the reports would complicate upcoming, and possibly difficult, contract talks with the UAW, Fields said, "I get uncomfortable when speculation gets out there in the marketplace that is unproductive. But we'll deal with it."
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