Of the vehicles built in North America last year, Mexico produced about one in five, or double the rate from 2004.
WardsAuto, which tracks production data, expects the rate to increase to one in four by 2020 with new plants adding 1.2 million units of capacity in North America and Mexico getting the lion’s share. Virtually every automaker is adding capacity in Mexico, including General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Kia and Mazda.
In 2014, automakers announced $18.25 billion in additional investments in North America. The breakdown: almost $10.5 billion for the U.S., $7 billion in new projects for Mexico, and a single $750-million project for Canada, according to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.
That is on top of the 18 plants already in Mexico, and there are least five more planned or under construction. Mexico has seen a 40% increase in auto jobs since 2008 to 675,000 last year while the U.S. saw only a 15% increase in the same period to more than 900,000.
Earlier this year, Ford announced it will spend $2.5 billion on new engine and transmission plants in Chihuahua and Guanajuato, in central Mexico, creating 3,800 jobs.
Wayne plant once celebrated
Back in 2011, Ford touted its $550 million investment in the aging plant in Wayne as a symbol of its global plan to put a bigger emphasis on making better passenger cars.
The 2.8 million square foot plant originally opened in 1957. For most of its history, Ford built big trucks and SUVs such as the Ford Bronco, F-150, Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator at the plant before it was idled in 2008 as the automaker’s sales were hurt by high gas prices and the worst recession in decades.
Ford celebrated the reopening of Michigan Assembly on March 17, 2011, during an event attended by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and many others.
But this year, with low gasoline prices falling, the Focus and C-Max hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid have seen sales fall.
That led to the decision in April to reduce production from three crews to only two shifts and lay off 700 workers although many of the excess workers are filling in for summer vacations at other plants, Adamski said.
Focus sales in the first half of 2015 are down 3.2% from a year earlier, while sales of C-Max fell 16.9%.
Ford also builds the Focus at plants in China, Argentina, Germany, Russia, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam. The C-Max is also built in Germany.
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