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President-elect Donald Trump took credit on Thursday night for saving a Ford manufacturing plant from being moved abroad — even though the plant was never going anywhere.
“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,” he tweeted.
The only problem? Ford had never suggested it would close the plant in question, which employs about 4,700 people. In fact, Ford officials made a commitment in its 2015 contract with the United Auto Workers union to invest $700 million in the Louisville plant during the next four years.
After months of erroneously bashing the automaker in speeches and in social media about its production plans, the tweet seemed like a nice start to a beautiful new friendship – or at least a nice change of pace from a long string of inaccuracies. He even followed it up with another one.
“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!” he tweeted.
In actuality, the automaker’s plans called for Ford to shift production of the Lincoln MKC to the company’s plant in Cuautitlan, Mexico, at some point in 2019 in order to increase production of the strong-selling Ford Escape.
Ford spokeswoman Christin Baker confirmed that Bill Ford spoke with President-elect Trump on Thursday, according to the Detroit Free Press, saying “Bill shared Ford’s continued commitment to invest in the U.S. 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.”
Trump has repeatedly gotten Ford’s production plans wrong during his campaign, flogging the automaker and incorrectly claiming it was moving all of its auto production to Mexico.
He repeatedly threated to slap a 35 percent tariff on any Ford products built and shipped from Mexico to the United States for sale. Ford responded to that and the other inaccuracies and Bill Ford even met with him to try and explain it to him.
The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker repeatedly said that the move of the Focus and C-Max small cars to Mexico would be offset by the introduction of new vehicles into that Michigan plant, including a new Ford Ranger midsize pickup as well as potentially the Bronco sport-ute, which hasn’t been confirmed.
Since 2011, Ford has invested $12 billion in U.S. plants and created 28,000 U.S. jobs. Trade and legal analysts said there is no clear mechanism that would allow a president to take such steps. And Trump’s critics questioned why the candidate focused on Ford and not the numerous other automakers moving to Mexico.
Ford previously said it would invest $1.6 billion in its Mexican operations. It is not clear if — barring some new roadblocks — that figure will now grow.