The production of Ford engines in Mexico started in 1983 when the company opened a facility in the city of Chihuahua. The growth of this plant has been gradual, and at this moment, it has 247 acres of land and 732,000 square feet of construction where more than 1,580 employees are working to manufacture the engines that will be later mounted on Ford vehicles around the world.
“We have invested in Chihuahua by adding a third assembly line to produce the DRAGON engine. Our impact on powertrain is global, so we send our engines and transmissions to the whole world. Chihuahua is one of the most productive locations that Ford has, so this plant has earned the opportunity to produce these engines there,” said Chris Recktenwald, director of purchasing and supplier quality at Ford Mexico, in an interview with BorderNow.
The engines produced in Chihuahua are exported to various parts of the world, including the United States, Canada, South America, and the Asia Pacific region. A part of this production is for small cars.
“This plant is part of our support for new vehicles that Ford develops globally and not exclusively for Mexico,” Recktenwald added.
This engine plant in Chihuahua has had several extensions. One of them was in 2009, when the production of diesel engines for light and medium trucks was integrated.
The most recent expansion was announced in 2015 and was completed in 2017, through which Ford integrated new gasoline engines. According to a press release, the investment in the Chihuahua plant was US$1.1 billion.
In addition, US$200 million were invested to expand the production of diesel engines. The production of these diesel engines as well as the gasoline engine I-4 will increase the workforce by 500 people.
The 2.5L engine of the DURATEC HE platform continued until 2017 as the base engine for the Ford Escape and the Fusion. Production ended about a year ago and the engine was replaced by the new DRAGON. The production of the new DRAGON engine started at the Chihuahua plant in February 2018.
Ford estimates show that, with these expansions, its engine plant in Chihuahua now contributes with 10% of the engines for passenger vehicles sold under this brand.
In addition to the production of engines, Ford has two assembly plants in Hermosillo, Sonora, and Cuautitlan-Izcalli, State of Mexico, as well as a transmission plant in Irapuato, Guanajuato.
Recktenwald mentioned that there is still an opportunity to do business with Ford in Mexico as it has a solid Tier 1 supply base, but there are still opportunities for Tier 2 suppliers.
He expressed Ford is thinking locally and the company is asking to its Tier 1 suppliers to do the same. Moreover, the company is in the process to manufacture electric vehicles in Mexico; as a result, this will be a new area of opportunity for domestic suppliers and foreigners installed in the country to do business with Ford.
“Basically, we have our supply base that can help us build the electric vehicle. Obviously, we are working with them to see if they can reconvert and continue doing business with us,” said Recktenwald.
Even though Ford canceled the project of an assembly plant in San Luis Potosi in 2017 due to the decline in demand for small cars in North America the company says it has a firm commitment to Mexico where it has operated for 90 years.
Recktenwald commented that Ford’s decisions are not based on politics but on market patterns, so the cancellation of this project was due to the change in consumers, who prefer trucks and SUVs instead of small cars.