NEW YORK, March 23 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co CEO Mark Fields on Wednesday defended the automaker’s investment strategy amid criticism from Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
Fields told reporters at the New York International Auto Show where the company showed off a concept Lincoln Navigator SUV concept that the company was boosting investments in the United States.
He also said Ford would not back away from foreign investments if they made sense.
“We are a global, multinational company and we will invest to keep us competitive and we will do what makes sense for the business,” Fields said.
Since last June, Trump has been attacking Ford, vowing to call Fields after taking office demanding Ford cancel its expansions in Mexico. Trump has also threatened to impose a 35 percent tariff on Ford’s Mexican exports to the United States, though it is not clear how he would be able to do that under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
But Trump has at times misstated Ford’s plans and recently suggested Ford is “leaving” the United States. Ford has said it has no plans to close any of its U.S. factories.
In a separate CNBC interview, Fields was asked if he has been listening to Trump lately. “No I have not,” Fields said. “It’s presidential politics.”
Since 2011, Ford has invested over $10 billion in U.S. facilities and hired more than 25,000 U.S. workers, Fields said. Ford plans to invest another $9 billion in the United States in the next four years.
A Reuters report in January said that Ford would announce by March 31 plans to build a new vehicle plant in Mexico’s San Luis Potosi state as part of a $1.5 billion investment. That plant would produce around 350,000 cars annually, Reuters reported, citing two unnamed officials.
The Wall Street Journal reported in February that the investment would more than double Ford’s production capacity in Mexico.
In April 2015, Ford said it would invest $2.5 billion in new engine and transmission plants in Mexico, creating 3,800 jobs.
Fields did not comment directly on those reports about the planned Mexican investment and a Ford spokesman said on Wednesday the company does not comment on speculation on future plans.
Fields also declined to comment on reports that first arose in December that the automaker may form a partnership with Alphabet Inc’s Google unit to build self-driving cars.
“We always talk with everybody,” Fields said, declining to elaborate. (Reporting by David Shepardson, editing by G Crosse)