Supposedly as a person ages their memory goes south, so I’m delighted the old noggin is still functioning a lot better than the legion of faulty Ford vehicles moving along U.S. and Canadian roads. Reading this Bloomberg exclusive story that Ford CEO Jim Farley is looking to lay off some 8,000 salaried workers in the U.S., I immediately recalled President Joe Biden’s State of the Union in March during which he was singing Ford’s praises.

“Just look around and you’ll see an amazing story,” Biden gushed. “Companies are choosing to build factories here, when just a few years ago, they would have built them oversees. Ford is investing $11 billion to build electric vehicles, creating 11,000 jobs across the country.”

Biden doubled down on his praise for Ford in June after Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk said he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy and that he would lay off 10 percent of the company’s workforce. “So, you know, lots of luck on his trip to the Moon,” Biden said, referring to Musk’s space exploration company SpaceX, which in recent weeks has launched several successful rockets.

Bloomberg, July 20, 2022

A big blow to Detroit

According to Bloomberg, Ford employs some 31,000 salaried workers in the U.S. where the bulk of the firings are slated to occur. Although Bloomberg chose to soft pedal this detail, I’m not so generous: The firings represent 26 percent of Ford’s salaried workforce in the U.S. Presumably, many, if not most, of these employees work at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters outside Detroit.

When Farley told the New York Times in a 2008 interview that “I don’t care about Detroit,” he clearly meant it.

Playing politicians for fools is a talent where Farley and Ford have shown remarkable skill. As I reported for Deadline Detroit last October, Ford demonstrated that Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell, are way out of their depths dealing with Ford. The Michigan pols naively believed Ford’s claim in July 2021 that it planned to make Michigan “a centerpiece of its focus on EV” and hailed the company and its products.

Two months later, Ford announced plans to invest more than $11 billion to build a mega campus in Tennessee and two battery plants in Kentucky, promising to create more than 11,000 jobs in those states. It was the largest investment ever announced in Ford’s history.

Undaunted, Whitmer recently gave Ford $150 million in Michigan taxpayer money to retool some Detroit area plans and build a local customer service center.

Ford’s Farley

Bloomberg reported that Farley’s layoffs would be in his newly created Ford Blue unit responsible for producing internal combustion vehicles, as well as other salaried operations throughout the company. It’s all part of Farley’s grand scheme to cut $3 billion in costs by 2026. Farley believes there are ample enough chumps who will continue buying Ford’s gas engine vehicles, despite a growing litany of recalls, including Ford trucks spontaneously catching fire to Broncos experiencing engine failure with less than 10,000 miles.

Farley plans to use the profits from the chump sales to fund research and development for Ford’s electric vehicles.

Offshoring jobs

Ford in recent years has been offshoring critical jobs to India, where the company employs more than 11,000 workers; in September Ford announced plans to “significantly expand” its India workforce “to focus on engineering, technology, and business operations centers of excellence.” Earlier this year, the Detroit Free Press reported that Farley cut 580 jobs, mostly in the “engineering function.” Ford also has significantly expanded its Mexican engineering operations in the past decade.

From a June 30th report in Ford Authority, a trade publication:

The Ford Engineering Center is the largest facility of its type in Latin America, and it experienced a 900 percent growth in personnel from 2010-2022. Mexican engineers were significantly involved with the Ford Bronco Sport, as Ford says over 70 percent of its engineering took place there. Additionally, the compact off-road oriented crossover is manufactured at the Hermosillo Assembly plant in Mexico. On a related note, nine Mexican engineers worked on instrument panels for the 2022 Ford Expedition and 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning.

“Ford Mexico’s Engineering Center has evolved so much in recent years that we have become a fundamental arm for the company’s global projects. For many years, we thought that Mexican talent was mainly related to manufacturing, but today, we have shown that we are equally or more valuable than the design engineers in countries like Germany, Australia or the United States,” said Marcos Pérez, director Product Development at Ford of Mexico.

Class action lawsuits

In addition to needing R&D capital to fund the development of his electrical vehicle business, one has to imagine that Farley needs to squirrel away funds to settle multiple class action lawsuits filed against the company for selling faulty vehicles, sometimes knowingly. This includes an action relating to Ford’s Mexican-made electric Mustang, which was recalled last month for a problem that could cause potential engine failure. Ford has yet to figure out how to remedy the issue.

Farley is a media darling, and he believes his fawning press coverage that he’s a serious threat to Musk and Tesla. In May, Ford ran an ad poking fun at Musk without mentioning him by name.

“Right now it could seem like the only people that matter at the loudest,” said a voiceover while a hand scrolled across a smartphone. “Those who want to tear things down, and then fly away on their personal spaceships when things get hard. But we’ve got 182,000 people and they’re building.”

Farley is no Musk

Say what you want about Elon Musk, he determined more than six weeks ago the economy was turning south and he needed to downsize his workforce. And while Teslas have racked up their share of recalls, Musk introduced a pioneering technology while Ford hasn’t yet mastered gas engine technology.

That Biden chose to celebrate Ford while mocking Musk speaks to the president’s judgment. Whitmer, who Biden seriously considered as his running mate, has demonstrated she’s clueless about Ford and its tenuous relationship with Michigan.

Americans are already wise to Biden’s ineptness.  Hopefully, they’ll come to their senses about Whitmer.

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