President-elect Donald Trump criticised General Motors for building a version of the Chevrolet Cruze compact in Mexico, saying the largest US automaker should build the car at home or face a hefty tariff.
“General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to US car dealers-tax free across border,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “Make in USA or pay big border tax!”
Every Cruze sedan is built in Ohio and most of GM’s Mexican-made hatchbacks are exported to global markets, said Tony Cervone, a company spokesman. He declined to comment on whether the company planned to talk to Trump.
Trump’s tweet is the latest example of interventionist behavior toward US companies that have included Boeing, Lockheed Martin and United Technologies. His threats against Mexican-built vehicles have the potential to impact the nine global carmakers, including Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor, that have announced more than $24 billion in Mexico investments since 2010.
Volkswagen AG’s Audi, BMW AG and Daimler AG each build or plan to assemble luxury vehicles, engines or heavy trucks in the country.
The Trump transition team has said Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra will be among the panel of business leaders giving him strategic advice on the economy after he takes office.
GM shares rose about 0.2% to $34.90 as of 9:31 a.m. in New York. The Detroit-based company said in November it planned to cut a shift at its Cruze plant in Ohio and furlough 1,200 workers there due to weak demand for small cars.
Glenn Johnson,Donald Trump president of United Auto Workers Local 1112, which represents GM workers in Lordstown, said in an interview at the time of the layoffs he didn’t know if his plant had the tooling in place to make the hatchback version of the Cruze. The hatchback version sells in small numbers and probably would not rescue an entire shift, he said.
Trump has made a point of pressuring large US manufacturers into keeping production in the US. He criticized Ford during the presidential campaign for moving production of the Ford Focus compact and C-Max hybrid to Mexico. In November, he said on Twitter he talked with Chairman Bill Ford and got the automaker to commit to keeping production of the Lincoln MKC sport utility vehicle in Kentucky instead of Mexico.
At the time, Trump indicated he’d saved the plant. In reality, the plant was not scheduled to close. Its employees assemble the Ford Escape SUV, a better-selling model. More than 5,000 employees work nearly around the clock on three crews to meet demand for the two SUVs.