Volume 14 | Issue 1 | Year 2011

Ford’s list of achievements in Mexico is numerous, but its longstanding presence in the country rises above all of the rest.
“In the automotive industry, the company was the first one to be established,” said Leo Torres de Unanue, director of purchasing and material, planning, and logistics (MP&L) at Ford Motor Company, S.A. de C.V.

Today, Ford Motor Company, also known as Ford México, is just 15 years shy of completing a century in Mexico. During its 85-years existence, the company has taken advantage of available resources. In turn, this enabled it to experience continuous growth. “Currently, our four plants operate at full capacity,” Torres reports.

ROBUST PRODUCTION RATES
In terms of production, Ford México’s four manufacturing plants churn out hundreds of thousands of vehicles and engines each year.

The plants reside in different regions of the country. One is situated in Hermosillo, a city in the northwestern region of Mexico. Here, the company produces the Ford Fusion model and the Lincoln MKZ. It manufactures gasoline internal combustion engines and hybrid electric motors for exportation to the United States, Canada and South America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, and Colombia). Current annual production levels have reached 305,000 automobiles.

Another plant is located in Cuautlitlán, a city just outside of Mexico’s capital (Mexico City). In this plant, Ford produces the Fiesta model, a vehicle exported to countries in both North and South America. The site produces 129,000 Fiestas each year.

The other two plants are located in Chihuahua, a city in north central Mexico. At one of these, the company produces the Ford I4 engines in its different versions, including 1.4, 2, 2.3, and 2.5 liters. At the other plant, Ford México manufactures diesel engines (the 4.4 and 6.7 versions). The I4 plant in Chihuahua manufactures 410,000 engines per year, and the diesel plant produces 120,000 motors annually.

Ford México has the distinction of being one of Mexico’s largest employers. In Hermosillo, nearly 4,000 workers conduct operations. The Cuautlitlán location employs approximately 2,200 workers. About 2,600 employees work in the two Chihuahua plants. Company corporate offices are based in Mexico City. Total employment, taking in the four plants and the corporate office, has risen above 7,300 people. In the past year, the company generated 3,600 new jobs (among CHEP II, CSAP, HSAP and engineering).

GROWTH IN MULTIPLE AREAS
A recent accomplishment involves expansion of the company’s engineering area in Mexico. Three years ago Ford México had just 60 engineers; today more than 500 engineers work for the company. By hiring more engineers in recent years, Ford México supported Mexico’s engineering industry.

“We’ve also grown in the purchases we make from national suppliers,” reports Torres. In 2005 the company purchased approximately $600 million worth of goods from its base of suppliers in Mexico. Between 2005 and 2010, purchase volume increased significantly. Torres estimates the company will close the year with $7 billion in purchases from national suppliers. Those figures tie into the number of suppliers. “Five years ago, we worked with 80 suppliers. Today, we have a base of 330 suppliers in Mexico,” reports Torres.

As far as truck and SUV sales in Mexico, Ford leads the way. For more than 12 years, it has held the top position in truck sales in Mexico. For the past 29 years, it has led SUV sales.

When it comes to advanced technology, the company currently offers the SYNC feature in all of its vehicles. This voice-activated communications and entertainment system allows the driver or passenger to control temperature, audio options, and get directions, among other features.

MORE THAN PRODUCTS: SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Ford’s strong influence in Mexico is not limited to vehicles. Indeed, it gives back to the community. “We’re a socially responsible company,” notes Torres. “Together with our distribution network, we have established 212 elementary schools. Social work is very important to us. It’s part of our reason for existence.”

Further, the company participates in ecological campaigns in the northern region of Mexico. It also works with recyclable materials. According to Torres, Ford México strives to create efficient engines that consume less gasoline and emit lower levels of carbon monoxide.

All of the above combines to make Ford México an employment model. For two consecutive years, it was ranked as the best company to work for by the publication Expansión. “Every year, the magazine conducts a survey that includes all of the companies in Mexico,” explains Torres. “Survey respondents choose which company they would most like to work for. In 2008 and 2009, we were positioned as the top company.”

The company’s Mexican plants are considered to be the top manufacturing plants in the entire Ford Corporation, adds Torres. These plants hold the top positions in both the auto and engine segments. “We’re also the most efficient in terms of energy consumption, cost, and above all, quality,” Torres points out. Such capabilities extend to product: Ford’s hybrid models have ranked as the top hybrid vehicles in North American for the past two years. Ford Fusion was ranked number one in the JD Power APEAL study for 2006. It also received high ratings from Consumer Reports.

FUTURE PLANS
As it moves forward, the company is developing new models for the market. “We’re working on the next generation of Fusion in Hermosillo,” reports Torres.

Ford México plans to launch this latest version soon. The company is also working on updated versions of the Fiesta to export. New models will feature an innovative design, built-in safety (with up to seven airbags), and technology and equipment usually only found in higher-priced vehicles. Production for the new Ford Fiesta has created 2,000 direct jobs and at least 6,000 indirect jobs in Mexico.

In the meantime, Ford México plans to continue manufacturing processes at its four plants. Company officials are also working to follow the four pillars that serve as Ford México’s strategy: smart, quality, security and green.

With more than 85 years of experience under its belt, Ford México is a well-established company that has grown substantially – one that has taken full advantage of Mexico’s resources and garnered a large supplier base. It plans to strengthen its presence in Mexico and carrying out its well defined strategy – enhancement of an already strong global platform.

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