No automaker is safe from the Twitter wrath of Donald Trump!
Just a few days ago Donald Trump took aim at GM for its factories in Mexico. Now the president-elect is directing his ire at a foreign company, Toyota. The Japanese automaker was the target of a Trump tweet deriding it for building the Corolla in 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,” the tweet read. Toyota is the first non-American automaker (that we know of) to be targeted by Trump.
America’ next president is pissed because starting in 2019, the Mexican Corolla plant will pump out 200,000 cars for sale in the US. It will cost $1 billion to build and ground was broken last November. Fun fact: Toyota already has a plant in Mexico. Its Tijuana facility builds the incredibly popular Tacoma, which is also built in San Antonio. No word on whether or not Donald Trump knows this. If he doesn’t the info is likely to infuriate him. The Wall Street Journal reports that Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota, held a press gathering Thursday in which he said the automaker “would like to closely watch various decisions [Mr. Trump] makes.” These remarks weren’t in response to the Donald Trump tweet as the gathering took place before the tweet.
Despite its investment in Mexico, Toyota’s CEO sees the company and the president-elect as being on the same page. “If you look over the long term, we are oriented in the same direction,” Toyoda told reporters. It’ll be interesting to see whether Trump feels the same way, and if his latest tweet causes Toyota to change course. So far the only case study we have is Ford. The American automaker has taken a ton of crap from Trump. It met the Donald halfway, scrapping plans for its $1.6 billion Mexican plant while reconfirming that the Focus would still be built south of the border. Maybe Toyota will offer a similar compromise, moving production of one model (Corolla or Tacoma) out of Mexico and back into the US.