Seriously, I do not want to start talking about politics all the time. It’s grating on my soul to talk about it at all right now, but our hands are being forced because this is legitimate news and hold a lot of weight for the auto industry as a whole.
President-Elect Donald Trump has an infamous Twitter account. You may have heard of it. Yesterday, Trump threatened GM with a large border tax if they did not build cars in the US. GM then responded with brief statement that they actually do, though that is being called into question. Now, Trump has called out Toyota about their new plant in Baja, Mexico.
Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2017
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Toyota responds in kind
Of course Toyota had to respond to this. Why? The simple fact that when Trump tweeted about GM, their stock sank ~1%. Toyota, for as much bad press as they get from enthusiasts for being boring, are a powerhouse company and sent out a response.
From their own press release:
Toyota has been part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. for nearly 60 years. Production volume or employment in the U.S. will not decrease as a result of our new plant in Guanajuato, Mexico announced in April 2015. With more than $21.9 billion direct investment in the U.S., 10 manufacturing facilities, 1,500 dealerships and 136,000 employees, Toyota looks forward to collaborating with the Trump Administration to serve in the best interests of consumers and the automotive industry.
Since Toyota is a nice company, I’ll say what they are really thinking. “Shut the fuck up, we’re going to do what we want.” Toyota is saying that we will continue to do business our way and you’re not our only market.
Why this is a problem
Here’s what I’m most disturbed by with this entire story line thus far. Most auto companies are, for the first time in forever, looking in the near term. The automotive industry is not a short-term marketplace. The full-cycle development of a single car from scratch can take up to 4-5 years to bring to market. That’s not short-term. Ford has gotten on Trump’s good side, and so has GM in a way, and Toyota is still going to do what they want, but they are looking at the now and not the future. Trump may be gone in 4 years and the deals they make today might set these companies back in the future.
I’m no industry whiz, but with auto sales starting to plateau and taper off a bit, isn’t that a poor decision?
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