Word spread quickly between co-workers that Ford Motor Co. had canceled its new $1.6 billion car plant at its 700-acre site in north-central Mexico. "When I saw it... [I thought], 'Well, no, it can't be,'" a security guard who spent the past five months logging traffic in and out of the site and hoped to have steady work there tells the AP. "It was on orders of Mr. Trump," he said bitterly. That was not the case, Ford insists, but the perception in Mexico's burgeoning auto-assembly region was largely that President-elect Donald Trump, who'd promised for months to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US while at the same time disparaging Mexicans, had made good on his vow before even settling into the White House.
The San Luis Potosi plant was well past the theoretical stage, and Ford's announcement sent shockwaves across Mexico. San Luis Potosi's economic development secretary says Ford told state officials about an hour before CEO Mark Fields made the announcement Tuesday. Mexico's auto plants now account for 20% of all light vehicles built in North America, industry figures say, and the long-awaited Ford plant promised 2,800 direct jobs and more than 10,000 indirect ones. In San Luis Potosi alone, between 50,000 and 60,000 jobs depend on the auto industry. There are some notes of optimism among Mexicans. Another guard tells the AP that "if it's not the United States, it could be Japan, China" taking over the site. Another option: Mexico turns inward and focuses more on developing its internal market, per a consultant.