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20 June 2017, 05:10 | Ross Houston
"We've done a lot of research and consumers care a lot more about the quality and the value than they do about the sourcing location", Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of global operations, said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.
Ford Motor Co. will export vehicles from China to the US for the first time starting in 2019.
Ford said it's also investing $900 million at its truck factory in Kentucky to build Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs, preserving 1,000 jobs.
The shift of production of the Ford Focus to China was among a number of manufacturing moves announced by the company, and one of the first strategic steps taken by its new chief executive, Jim Hackett.
The announcement comes just two years after Ford announced a $1.3 billion investment and added 2,000 jobs.
Ford said moving production of the Focus to China will not result in any job losses for US hourly employees.
After importing initial production of the new Focus cars from China, Ford will ship variants of the model later from Europe, the company said. Following that, the plant will be converted to produce the Ranger midsize pickup truck in late 2018 and the Bronco midsize SUV in 2020.
In January, the company announced it would cancel a new plant in Mexico and instead use capacity at another plant in Mexico to build the Focus.
General Motors Co (GM.N) has been exporting Buick and Cadillac cars from China to the United States, as has Volvo Cars, a unit of Chinese automaker Geely (0175.HK).
Hinrichs said last month's departure of former CEO Mark Fields had no bearing on the decision, which was in the works for some time. "At the same time, we also have looked at how we can be more successful in the small auto segment and deliver even more choices for customers in a way that makes business sense".
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