President Donald Trump said Ford Motor Co.'s decision not to import a new baby crossover from China means the Focus Active “can now be built in the U.S.A.”
But “can be” and “will be” are two very different things.
The automaker has already said it has no plans to restart production elsewhere. Ford canceled production of the Focus Active for the U.S. on Aug. 31, saying the Trump administration's 25 percent levy on China-built autos undermined the profitability of the car.
“This is just the beginning. This car can now be BUILT IN THE U.S.A. and Ford will pay no tariffs!” Trump tweeted.
“It would not be profitable to build the Focus Active in the U.S. given an expected annual sales volume of fewer than 50,000 units and its competitive segment,” Mike Levine, a spokesman for Ford, tweeted in response to the president's tweet Sunday.
“Ford has abruptly killed a plan to sell a Chinese-made small vehicle in the U.S. because of the prospect of higher U.S. Tariffs.” CNBC. This is just the beginning. This car can now be BUILT IN THE U.S.A. and Ford will pay no tariffs!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2018
Pulling the plug on the low-volume Focus Active won't be hugely significant to Ford's business because it sells more than 2.5 million vehicles annually in the U.S. But automakers may cull other vehicles as well if Trump continues to escalate trade wars with the likes of China, Europe and even Canada.
Ford plans to eventually stop selling all passenger cars in the U.S. except the Mustang, in favor of meeting Americans' appetite for large -- and profitable -- trucks, crossovers and SUVs. Ford had once planned to move production of the Focus to Mexico, drawing rebukes from Trump leading up to the 2016 election. Last year, Ford decided to shift production to China.