President-elect Donald Trump has zeroed in on a new target on Twitter — Toyota.
Toyota announced back in 2015 that it was building a new factory in Baja, Mexico, to build Corollas for the North American market including the U.S. Trump, who has used Twitter of criticize Ford and General Motors for plant location decisions, has now turned his attention to Toyota, which an extensive manufacturing operation in the U.S.
“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,” Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday afternoon. The post caused Toyota’s stock price to dip 1.7%.
That threatening tweet followed one issued by Trump on Tuesday, when he wrote, “General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers-tax free across border. Make in U.S.A. or pay big border tax!”
(Automakers waiting to see more about Trump’s policies for Mexico-made autos. Click Here for the story.)
GM replied that it does build the Cruze sedan in Ohio, but also builds the hatchback Cruze in Mexico for shipment to several different countries, including the U.S. The sedan accounts for more than 99% of all Cruze sales in the U.S.
The President-elect also took to Twitter to praise Ford, a frequent target in the past, for its decision to cancel construction of a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico and to invest $700 million in expanding a plant in Michigan that will now build EVs and autonomous vehicles.
In contrast to other automakers, which have bulked up their manufacturing operations in Mexico during the past decade, Toyota has been relatively slow to increase scope of its Mexican manufacturing operations.
However, it said in April 2015, that production planned for Mexico would replace that of a factory in Ontario, Canada, and not in the U.S. However, Toyota did close a plant in Fremont, California, that once built the Corolla after its partnership with General Motors dissolved during GM’s bankruptcy. The Fremont plant now serves as Tesla’s production center.
(Ford scrubs Mexican plant – but still moving small cars to Mexico. Click Here for the story.)
Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda told reporters in Tokyo that “we have no immediate plan to change” where they make their cars, according to a Reuters report. But Toyoda also said at that event that his company and Trump are “oriented in the same direction” and that he “would like to closely watch various decisions [Trump] makes,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
“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,” a Thursday statement from the company said.
“Toyota looks forward to collaborating with the Trump Administration to serve in the best interests of consumers and the automotive industry,” the automaker noted.
During the years, Toyota has made a point of avoiding entanglements in the domestic politics of the dozens of countries in which it operates. It is also sensitive to the potential for a backlash having seen its once thriving business in China battered, following a political dispute between the Chinese and Japanese government.
(For more on Trump’s attack on Chevrolet, Click Here.)
But Trump has made the promise to return manufacturing jobs to the U.S. a center point of his successful campaign for President and identified Mexico as one nation that has benefited from jobs transferred from the United States to locations where wages are significantly lower than the U.S. He attacked trade agreements like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, labeling them job killers.