Ford Motor Co. is considering making the new electric Mustang Mach-E in China, depending on how the trade war between Washington and Beijing plays out, CEO Jim Hackett said.
“We need to determine whether the tariffs are settled. And it would be great” if they were settled, Hackett said after a launch event for the car in Los Angeles. “We have a plan to build there if we have to.”
In an earlier interview with Bloomberg TV, Hackett said he believed there would be good demand for the car in China. “I’m smiling because China has got a mandate for electrification, so the Mach-E has a role in that,” he said.
Ford plans to import the Mustang Mach-E to China but hasn't indicated when sales in the world's biggest EV market will begin.
While Ford is building the Mach-E in Mexico, Hackett said the company employs more workers in the U.S. than its competitors. President Donald Trump, who has criticized American firms for manufacturing overseas, said in August that U.S. companies should look for alternatives to China. But many continue to expand operations there, including Tesla Inc., which has built a Gigafactory on the outskirts of Shanghai in a matter of months.
The electric Mustang will take on Tesla models when it goes on sale in the U.S. and Europe next fall, the first Ford model to be launched simultaneously in both regions. Meanwhile, China’s enormous auto market is in a slump as the economy has slowed. EV sales have also suffered after the government pared back subsidies.
Chinese EV makers, of which there are hundreds, have ambitions to break into overseas markets. Just last week, property giant China Evergrande Group restated its aim of being the world’s biggest maker of EVs in three to five years. The company, founded by China’s third-richest man Hui Ka Yan, plans to debut its Hengchi EV by next June.
Hackett said Ford is waiting to launch in China because “we’ve got to make sure that we’re flawless” in introducing the model in the U.S. and Europe.