By Bernie Woodall and David Shepardson
(Reuters) - Ford Motor Co Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields said on Wednesday that all of the company's small-car production would be leaving U.S. plants and heading to lower-cost Mexico, drawing another rebuke from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
"We will have migrated all of our small-car production to Mexico and out of the United States," over the next two to three years, Fields told Wall Street analysts at an investor conference hosted by the automaker.
Trump, campaigning in Flint, Michigan, on Wednesday, called Ford's decision "horrible." He has criticized Ford's Mexican investments for more than a year and vowed to pressure the automaker to reverse course if elected.
"We shouldn't allow it to happen," Trump said.
Fields has previously responded to Trump's criticism by saying that as a global company Ford must compete by making solid business decisions.
Earlier this year, Ford said it would invest $1.6 billion in Mexico for small-car production to start in 2018.
During contract talks in 2015, Ford confirmed that it would move Focus and C-Max production out of its Wayne, Michigan, plant in 2018. The United Auto Workers Union 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. Analysts have said they expect Ford to build a new Bronco SUV and Ranger pickup there.
Fields said that Ford planned to shift a majority of its small car production around the world to low-cost countries by 2019, which could affect Ford's Western European car production.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said in April that it would realign North American plants to emphasize truck and Jeep production over car output. The changes are expected to be completed by early 2018.
Both automakers are making the moves because U.S. consumers have turned away from traditional sedans and hatchbacks to SUVs and pickup trucks.
The United Auto Workers has said the number of auto assembly jobs would not decline because workers would be busy making SUVs and pickup trucks.
However, UAW President Dennis Williams has said there was a risk that if gasoline prices rose again above $4 per gallon as in mid-2008, consumers might once again favor smaller cars.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe)