President-elect Donald Trump took credit Thursday night for convincing the chairman of Ford Motor Company to keep a manufacturing plant in Louisville, Kentucky, from relocating to Mexico -- but the automaker says it never planned to relocate the entire plant.
Trump tweeted, "Just got a call from my friend Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford, who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky -- no Mexico. I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!”
While many will have read the tweets as the incoming president taking credit for saving U.S. jobs, a Ford spokeswoman confirmed to ABC News that it had only planned to move production of Lincoln MKC vehicles to Mexico – likely to the city of Cuautitlán. In a tweet on Friday, the company was even more explicit, saying "Louisville plant wasn’t moving; MKC was."
Ford spokeswoman Christin Baker told ABC News on Friday that the automaker's plan to move MKC production to Cuautitlán would not have cost any jobs in the U.S.
The Louisville Assembly Plant also produces the Ford Escape, and Baker said that the MKC accounts for "just shy of 10 percent" of total production at the facility.
Baker could not say whether the decision to keep MKC production in Kentucky would mean that fewer Ford Escapes (which are also produced in the same facility) would be produced. She cited the fact that the MKC move was planned for 2019.
Aware of the fact that tax and regulatory policy are likely to change once the new administration takes over, the company made the decision not to transfer production of the MKC to Mexico, Baker said. She confirmed that that a call between Trump and Bill Ford did take place on Thursday.
The president-elect's transition team declined to comment for this story regarding the tweets.
A few hours after the tweets, the company issued a late-night statement on Thursday, Ford released this statement following Trump's tweets:
"We continue to engage with President-elect Trump's team –- and the new Congress –- as they shape the policy agenda for 2017. We have shared our commitment to continue investing in the U.S. and creating American jobs -– building on the $12 billion we have invested in our U.S. plants and the nearly 28,000 U.S. jobs Ford has created in the past five years. Ford continues to employ more American autoworkers and produce more American made vehicles than anyone.
"Today, we confirmed with the President-elect that our small Lincoln utility vehicle made at the Louisville Assembly Plant will stay in Kentucky. We are encouraged that President-elect Trump and the new Congress will pursue policies that will improve U.S. competitiveness and make it possible to keep production of this vehicle here in the United States.
"We will have more details to share on our future plans at the appropriate time."
The announcement about MKC production staying in Kentucky comes days after Ford CEO Mark Fields told CNBC that the company would press ahead with plans to move small car production out of its Detroit manufacturing center to Mexico despite Trump’s election victory, according to The Associated Press.
The CEO said that no U.S. jobs would be lost as part of the move, as the plant in Michigan would continue manufacturing other vehicles.
This story was originally published on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, at 1:34 a.m., and has been updated to include new details.
- Bill Ford