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Obama visits Chicago Ford plant


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Obama visits Chicago Ford plant

President expected to push efforts to export more automobiles

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

President Barack Obama, during a visit to Ford Motor Co.'s Chicago Assembly Plant today, plans to tout his administration's efforts to boost auto exports.

Rounding out visits to all of Detroit's Big Three automakers, Obama will tour a factory where Ford will assemble its 2011 Explorer.

Ford is using $400 million of a $5.9 billion U.S. Energy Department loan to retool the factory. The next generation Explorer is about 25 percent more efficient than its predecessor.

The automaker will assemble the SUV on a line on which it built the Taurus. It is adding 1,200 workers, on a second shift, for Explorer production.

A person briefed on the plans said Obama will announce that Ford is to receive $250 million in financing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States to help increase its exports.

The Export-Import Bank works to assist in financing the export of American goods and services to international markets.

The bank also helps to level the playing field for U.S. exporters by matching the financing that other governments provide to their exporters.

The White House declined to comment Wednesday on what the president would say today in Chicago.

But his visit to the Ford plant is likely to be more low-key than last Friday's revival-like stops at General Motors Co.'s Detroit-Hamtramck factory, and Chrysler Group LLC's Jefferson North assembly plant.

The CEOs of both automakers were on hand, as employees cheered the president's defense of his decision to rescue the companies with $60 billion in bailout funds.

Ford, the only one of the Big Three that didn't seek a federal bailout, isn't sending its CEO or chairman to today's event. Ford Americas chief Mark Fields will accompany the president on his visit.

Obama, whose Ford Escape Hybrid is parked in his garage on Chicago's south side, drove a car for just the second time of his presidency Friday: a Chevy Volt that he piloted about 10 feet at the Hamtramck-Detroit plant. Fields said Obama can take his pick of any Ford vehicle he wants to drive while in Chicago.

Fields was in Traverse City on Wednesday as a speaker at the Center for Automotive Research's 2010 Management Briefing Seminars, an annual conference of industry insiders.

"We think that the administration made the right decision on saving GM and Chrysler because it helped protect the most critical asset, which is the supply base," he told reporters.

"At the same time," Fields said, Ford execs "felt we made the decision on not taking the precious taxpayer money."

Ford ships the iconic Explorer to 90 countries and hopes to boost exports with its new version.

Dearborn-based Ford wants changes to the Korea Free Trade agreement to make it easier for automakers to export and sell their vehicles there, and Fields said "tariff and nontariff" barriers alike need to be addressed. South Korea is considered unfriendly territory for foreign imports.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100805/AUTO01/8050369/1148/auto01/Obama-visits-Chicago-Ford-plant#ixzz0vjo889kj

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Obama hails auto bailout at Chicago Ford plant

Darlene Superville / Associated Press

Chicago -- President Barack Obama declared Thursday that the U.S. auto industry is not just rebounding from its problems but on its way to being No. 1 in the world again.

His rousing pep talk to Ford factory workers came before he was heading into a night of high-dollar fundraising for the Democratic Party.

The president celebrated that the big three American automakers -- GM, Chrysler and Ford -- were all operating at a profit again. He described a remarkable turnaround for the car companies in an industry on the brink of collapse when he took office, thanks to federal taxpayer help and industry adaptation.

While Ford did not need to accept federal bailout funds like the other two companies, Obama said Ford still benefited because the government intervention helped prevent the loss of jobs and brand confidence throughout the entire auto supply chain. He spoke from a Ford plant in Chicago that is poised to add 1,200 jobs.

"I am convinced that we're going to rebuild not only the auto industry but the economy better and stronger before," Obama said. "And at it's heart is going to be three powerful words: Made in America."

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100805/AUTO01/8050443/1148/auto01/Obama-hails-U.S.-auto-industry-at-Chicago-Ford-plant#ixzz0vkmrD6O2

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