DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. plans to stop construction of the compact Focus car in Argentina in May 2019, as it tries to limit the losses of its operations in South America.
Ford said it will continue to build compact Ranger pickups at its Pacheco plant in Argentina, employing some 3,440 people. A spokesman said it was "too early" to say whether there would be layoffs at Pacheco once the Focus ceased production, but the company was talking to the union representing the workers in the factory.
Once one of Ford's most popular models, the Focus will no longer be built in America after 2019, although it is expected to remain in production in China and Europe, where newly redesigned versions were introduced.
Ford said that South American customers, like their counterparts in North America, are increasingly opting for SUV & # 39; s and crossovers of traditional passenger cars like the Focus.
The American car manufacturer, meanwhile, is discussing the development of joint vehicles with the German Volkswagen group in Europe and South America.
Last week, Pablo Di Si, CEO of Volkswagen in Latin America, told Reuters that the companies are studying a partnership in Brazil and that the talks are "advancing positively".
In a statement on Monday, Ford said it is evaluating "multiple alternative investment projects" in South America, where "a major redesign of our business model is needed to determine where and how we should participate" in the market.
VW is currently building a Ranger-size pickup called the Amarok at its own plant in Pacheco and said last year that it plans to add a new SUV, the Tarek, in 2019.
Ford may in 2021-2021 add one or two new crossovers to its Pacheco plant, according to a supplier who is familiar with the plans of the automaker.
The two companies previously shared the development and assembly of vehicles in South America in a joint venture called Autolatina, which was dissolved in 1995.
General Motors said earlier this year that it planned to achieve long-term profitability in South America, built on draconian cost savings and the introduction in 2019 of the same low-cost vehicles it develops for Chinese consumers.
Ford stopped building the Focus in Michigan earlier this year and accused the falling American demand for passenger cars. At the end of August, it also deletes a plan to import a version of the next-generation Focus from China due to the prospect of higher US rates.