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Ford idling car plant in Mich. extra two weeks on light demand

Ford Motor Co. said today it will idle its Wayne, Mich., car factory an extra two weeks by the end of the year to adjust supply with demand. The plant makes the light-selling Focus compact and C-Max hybrid cars.

This is in addition to the shutdown for all Ford North American plants in the last week of the year for a normal holiday break, a Ford spokeswoman said.

Focus U.S. sales fell 14.5 percent to 140,049 vehicles through September while C-Max sales dropped 12.4 percent to 15,149 units.

Ford, when it issued its third quarter earnings earlier today, said it was cutting inventories because it expects a slight downturn in the U.S. new vehicle market in 2017.

CFO Bob Shanks said one of the three shifts at the F-150 pickup truck plant in Kansas City, Mo., will be out next week to manage inventory. This is in addition to this week’s full-plant shutdown for the same reason, which Ford revealed earlier this month.

The Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne is the same factory Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pointed to when he blasted Ford for moving U.S. jobs to Mexico.

CEO Mark Fields has said Ford is maintaining American jobs by keeping the company strong enough to compete in a tough market where profit margins for small cars are slight.

During contract talks in 2015, Ford confirmed that it would move Focus and C-Max production out of the Wayne plant in 2018. The UAW said at the time that Ford planned to build the next Focus in Mexico.

A source briefed on the matter said the shift of production to Mexico was expected to take place next year before the start of the 2018 model year.

In April, Ford reiterated that it was planning to build two new vehicles at the Wayne plant beginning in 2018. UAW officials have and analysts have said they expect Ford to build a new Bronco SUV and Ranger midsize pickup there.

Earlier this month, Ford also announced temporary plant shutdowns in Kentucky and in Mexico to manage inventory of its Escape SUV and Lincoln MKC SUVs, Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans, and the Fiesta small car.

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