(This story has been updated reflecting comments by Ford.)
In a surprise announcement, Ford said it will move two key models from a suburban Detroit assembly plant to another factory when they’re redesigned in 2018. There has been widespread news reportage indicating the Ford Focus and C-Max models will be shifted to Mexico, but the maker has said a final production site has not yet been determined.
The news come shortly after Ford announced it would drop a third shift at the Michigan Assembly Plant due to weak sales of the products built there, including the Ford Focus and the C-Max.
The announcement also precedes by barely two weeks the start-up of quadrennial contract talks between the second-largest Detroit automaker and the United Auto Workers Union. That has at least one well-placed labor source wondering whether the decision, more than three years ahead of the actual move, might be a bargaining ploy.