DETROIT (AP) – In another tweet targeting a U.S. company, President-elect Donald Trump is threatening to slap a tax on General Motors for importing compact cars to the U.S. from Mexico.
But GM makes the vast majority of compact Chevrolet Cruzes in Lordstown, Ohio, near Cleveland.
Trump tweeted early Tuesday that GM is sending Mexican-made Cruzes to the U.S. tax-free. He told GM to make the cars in the U.S. “or pay big border tax!”
GM imports only hatchback versions of the Cruze from a factory in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, and it amounts to only a small percentage of the 172,000 Cruzes sold by GM through November, spokesman Patrick Morrissey said. He was working to get the exact number. The hatchback is built in Mexico for global distribution, Morrissey said.
GM shares fell by about 1 percent immediately after the tweet, but have bounced ahead of the opening bell Tuesday.
Cruze hatchback production amounts to less than a day of output at the Lordstown plant, said Glenn Johnson, president of a United Auto Workers union local at the factory. The union, he said, is not protesting the move to build the hatch in Mexico.
“It makes for news, that’s all,” Johnson said of Trump’s tweet. The Lordstown factory, he said, is not equipped to build the hatch.
GM did import some Cruze sedans from Mexico last year to meet demand as it was rolling out a new version of the Cruze, Morrissey said, but that has stopped and all sedans sold in the U.S. are now made in Ohio, he said.
The hatchback version just went on sale in the fall.
The tweet was the latest threat from Trump to tax automakers that move production to Mexico and ship products back to the U.S. under the North American Free Trade agreement. Last year Trump went after Ford for plans to shift production of the compact Focus to Mexico. Jobs at the Detroit-area factory that now makes Focuses would be preserved because the plant is to get a new small pickup truck and SUV.
But Trump’s targets have ranged from U.S. retailers and defense contractors, to tech companies. Amazon.com, Boeing and Macy’s have been the subject of Trump tweets in the past.
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