Ford Motor Company will export vehicles from China to the U.S. for the first time starting in 2019.
The company announced Tuesday the plan to export the next-generation Focus from China rather than Mexico, as previously planned. Production of the Focus will phase out of Wayne, Michigan in mid-2018.
Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford's global operations, says the move will save the auto maker $1 billion, including $500 million from canceling a new plant in Mexico that was intended to build the Focus.
In a press release, Ford said the plan will not eliminate any hourly U.S. jobs. The Wayne plant will transition from building the compact Focus to produce the Ranger midsize pickup truck and the Bronco midsize SUV.
U.S. sales of the Focus were down 20% through May, hurt by low gas prices and consumer preference preference for SUVS.
Hinrichs stressed that Ford will export more vehicles to China than it imports. Ford expects to export 80,000 vehicles to China this year.