Ford Motor Co. wants US President Barack Obama to pressure Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to open its vehicle market and stop weakening the yen to give Japanese firms an advantage. Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, remarked that non-Japanese brands were only able to account for less than 4% of vehicle sales in Japan in 2012.
Ford also talked about the Japanese yen, which has weakened about 8% against the dollar since Dec. 26, 2012, the day when Shinzo Abe took his place as the country’s prime minister. Ford sells "a few hundred vehicles a month" in Japan, Hinrichs told reporters.
The Japanese yen has also weakened more than any currency since mid-November 2012, and trades at about 93 to the US dollar. Hinrichs told workers at an Ohio plant that they hope that the US government will send a clear message that any future trade policy with Japan should ensure a level playing field, and should not come at the expense of US workers.
Ford is planning to invest about $200 million in the plant as well as add around 450 new jobs by late 2014. Ford is also increasing its production capacity in Asia, particularly in China. The carmaker plans to spend over $4.9 billion to introduce 15 new models in China by 2015, as part of its moves to compete with General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG.
Hinrichs told reporters that US companies should not be disadvantaged by governments intervening in currencies. He said that while the weakening yen has not impacted or affected their sales, they are concerned about the long-term effects. Obama and Abe are set to meet and seek to strengthen their alliance as a buttress against China's territorial claims as well as North Korea's nuclear ambitions.