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Ford will invest $1.2bn across three Michigan sites, including building a data centre and upgrading two of its plants.

Several hours before the announcement was made, President Trump pre-emptively heralded the move, tweeting: “Big announcement by Ford today. Major investment to be made in three Michigan plants. Car companies coming back to US. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!”

In total, 130 jobs will be created by the move, Ford said.

The investments form part of the $9bn that Ford pledged to invest in its US operations under a deal signed with the UAW labour union in 2015.

“These investments have been in the works for quite some time,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of The Americas.

So far Ford has announced investments totally $4.7bn out of the $9bn, with the rest due to be spent by 2019, unless “business conditions change dramatically” or the economy falters, he added.

Under the new announcements, the carmaker will invest $850m in installing new tooling into its Michigan assembly plant to make the new Ranger and Bronco vehicles, and will invest $150m at its Romeo Engine plant, creating 130 roles.

It will also built a $200m data centre, the second data centre it has constructed in Michigan, as the company expects its use of data to increase as vehicles become increasingly connected and autonomous.

In January Ford stunned investors by pulling plans for a $1.6bn plant in Mexico, and pledged to invest $700m in its US facilities.

However the company is still moving production of the Ford Focus model, which had been destined for the new facility, to an existing Mexican plant.

The decision to axe the plant, which was welcomed by President Trump, cost Ford $200m in payments to jilted suppliers and sunk construction costs, the company since revealed.

President Trump has called for “America First” policies, calling on carmakers to increase US manufacturing and criticising companies that produce vehicles in Mexico to export to the US.

Carmakers from Toyota to General Motors have responded by announcing a series of investments in the US, even where some of the spending would have happened anyway.

Yet carmakers’ dependence on Mexico has a manufacturing base is still rising.

According to LMC, the forecasting group, the Detroit three – Ford, GM and Chrysler – will still build 1m more cars in Mexico by 2020, while making 500,000 fewer in the US, compared to 2015 levels.

The country’s total car output is still expected to reach 5m by 2020, up from 3.5m last year.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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