President-elect Donald Trump directed his ire at another automaker Thursday, threatening Toyota Motor Corp. with a border tax for planning to build a factory in Mexico.
“Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S.,” Trump tweeted. “NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.”
Toyota already builds Corollas from a factory in Mississippi and had produced more than 500,000 units as of early 2015. While Japan’s largest automaker is planning to build a Corolla plant in Mexico, it’s slated for Apaseo el Grande, Guanajuato. The company has a factory in Tijuana, a city in Mexico’s Baja California state that borders the U.S., building Tacoma pickups.
Trump’s attacks on the auto industry are in keeping with his pledges to revive U.S. manufacturing that has steadily migrated to countries with cheaper labor for decades. He targeted General Motors Co. earlier this week for building a version of its Cruze compact south of the border, and Ford Motor Co.’s move on Tuesday to cancel a $1.6 billion new plant in the country after months of criticism closely followed a decision by United Technologies Corp.’s Carrier in November.
“Trump’s tweet are usefully making automakers think hard about additional Mexican production,” said Dan Luria, an analyst at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Institute.
Hours before Trump’s tweet, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said he’d take the president-elect’s decisions into account when planning the automaker’s Mexico operations, in response to a question about Ford scrapping its factory. The grandson of Toyota’s founder told reporters at a New Year’s event he’s always thinking about boosting U.S. production, regardless of the political situation in the country.
Production and employment in the U.S. won’t decrease as a result of Toyota’s new plant in Guanajuato, which was announced in April 2015, according to the company.
“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,” Scott Vazin, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail.
Toyota’s American depositary receipts fell as much as 0.7% and traded down 0.5% to $120.57 as of 2:34 p.m. in New York.