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Trump Takes Credit For Saving A U.S. Ford Plant That Wasn't Planning To Move

Ford Escape sport utility vehicles move down the production line at Ford Motor Co.'s Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky.

President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter on Thursday night to say Ford Motor Co. executive chairman William Ford Jr. had called to say the company would not move production of the Lincoln MKC from its Louisville Assembly Plant to Mexico.

A second Trump tweet claimed credit for the decision.

Ford, however, said it neither planned to close the Louisville, Ky., plant nor reduce jobs there. The company said it had considered moving Lincoln production to Mexico to increase production of the Ford Escape in Louisville.

Trump criticized Ford during the campaign for its decision to move small-car production from Michigan to Mexico. Trump suggested he might impose tariffs on Ford cars assembled in Mexico.

Earlier this week, Ford CEO Mark Fields said Trump's election has not changed the company's plans. Reuters reports:

" 'We're going forward with our plan to move production of the Ford Focus to Mexico, and importantly that's to make room for two very important products we'll be putting back into Michigan plants,' Fields said in an interview on the sidelines of the Los Angeles Auto Show. 'There will be no job impact whatsoever with this move.'

"Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. said last month he met with Trump. Ford has countered Trump's criticism, saying the company, founded by his great-grandfather, makes more cars and trucks in the United States than any other automaker.

"Fields said with U.S. gasoline prices so low, 'it's very difficult for us to be able to make money on a vehicle produced in the U.S.' in the small car segment. If Ford decided to build the Focus small car line in the United States, and had to raise the price, 'we wouldn't sell the vehicle.' "

Ford has said on previous occasions that it has no intention of closing plants in the U.S. Also, plant closings are covered by collective bargaining agreements with the United Auto Workers Union, and it's not clear if plants could be closed before those agreements expire.

Meanwhile Ford said in a statement to NPR, "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."

"The auto industry is scared," says Paul Eisenstein, publisher of The Detroit Bureau, an online newspaper that covers the industry. "[It] is very seriously scared about the possibility of seeing barriers and trade wars like before the Great Depression."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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