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Was Ford's announcement today influenced by Trump's tweets? Yes.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says Ford could stand to refresh its model lineup, and should invest more in connected vehicles.
Ford Motor Company
Ford autonomous test vehicle

Ford Motor Company won't be building a new plant in Mexico, but will instead invest $700 million in a plant in southeast Michigan.

The Flat Rock Assembly Plant will be updated to create a factory capable of producing high-tech electrified and autonomous vehicles.  

The plant’s expansion will bring 700 new jobs directly to Flat Rock.

Ford also confirmed seven of 13 new global electrified vehicles will be coming in the next five years, including an F-150 Hybrid, a Mustang Hybrid and a Transit Custom plug-in hybrid.

Fields believes electric vehicles will soon be more readily available to the public.

“Our view is that in the next 15 years that there will be more electrified offerings in the market place by the industry than gas powered ones, so we want to be a leader in that area,” Fields said.

How much of this announcement has to do with President-elect Donald Trump’s tweets?

Trump has been critical of companies like Ford and GM for moving factory jobs overseas, often going to Twitter to voice his concerns.

Ford’s president and CEO Mark Fields said building the plant in Mexico wasn't in the best interest of the company. 

“The primary reason we’re not building the new plant is that demand has gone down for small cars,” Fields said. “In total, it’ll save us about $500 million in capital expenditures than we originally thought.”

Despite Fields saying the decision not to build a factory in Mexico was primarily about doing good business when the announcement was originally made, he later revealed to NPR that Trump's tweets had influence. 

"We have a president elect who said very clearly he wants to create a more positive business environment for manufacturing here in the U.S." - Mark Fields

"I can't give you an exact percentage, but clearly it was a factor," Fields said.

"We have a president elect who said very clearly he wants to create a more positive business environment for manufacturing here in the U.S., wants to create pro-growth policies, whether it's through tax reform or regulatory reform and those things matter," he said.

Auto Analyst Rebecca Lindland said, whatever the reason, it's good business to play nice with the President-Elect and that means taking his tweets into account.

"We are suddenly going from thousand page documents to 140 characters. And that is arguably more impactful than all those pieces of paper,” Lindland said. “And so yes, I mean when Trump tweets, people listen. They have to.”

Predictably, the President-elect tweeted about Ford's announcement, calling it a result of his policies.

Trump tweeted this after the announcement was made:

Representatives from Ford spoke to both President-elect Trump and vice president elect Mike Pence about the company's decision to develop this technology domestically.

“They were both very pleased that we were again making these investments, adding these jobs, bolstering our leadership that we have today in automotive manufacturing here in the U.S.,” Fields said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story indicated all 13 of Ford's planned electrified vehicles would be built at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant. That was incorrect. The story has been updated with corrections.

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