Ford Will Stop Building the Focus for the US for About a Year

Ford’s compact is taking a year off as its production moves to China.

byEric Brandt|
Ford News photo

News that Ford is planning to move production of the compact Focus from Michigan to China dropped last week amidst a period of declining small car sales in the US. As part of this cost-cutting plan, Focus production for the US will stop entirely for around a year while the transition in manufacturing takes place, according to The Truth About Cars. Production of the Focus is expected to shut down in the Michigan Assembly Plant in mid-2018 and start back up in China in mid- to late 2019.

Does that mean we’ll have a Focus shortage in the US? Probably not, because they’re selling that slowly. Focus sales are down 20 percent in the first five months of 2017, according to the Automotive News Data Center. We know that one of the worst things that can happen to a compact car’s sales figures is a similarly sized crossover, and now, the Focus has the Ecosport subcompact crossover to compete with on dealer lots. Ford’s president of global operations Joe Hinrichs told Automotive News that “a combination of [Focus] stockpiling, and the EcoSport coming in...will help us have another product in that price band." In other words, Ford is already planning on the EcoSport cannibalizing the Focus in some way.

This decision is purely a financial one. Heinrichs went on to tell Automotive News that moving production to China “allows us to free up a lot of capital.” The Focus is a global car, so rather than retooling a factory in China and a factory in Michigan, they only have to give the Chinese plant a makeover to prepare for the fourth generation Focus. The next-gen Focus is expected for the 2020 model year.