GM won’t change Mexico production called out by Trump

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. Chairman and CEO said Sunday the automaker does not plan to change its production plans for the Mexican-built Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback, which was called out in a tweet last week by President-elect Donald Trump.

Mary Barra, speaking to reporters after the reveal of the 2018 GMC Terrain, said GM has a plan for the vehicle that’s been in place for some time. Trump, in a tweet Tuesday, threatened GM with a “big border” tax for Cruze vehicles built in Mexico that were imported to the U.S.

“This is a long-lead business with high capital-intensive investments, decisions that were made two, three and four years ago,” Barra said. “When you look at the Cruze sedan, the Cruze sedan for U.S. consumption is being built here.”

GM builds Cruze sedans at its Lordstown Assembly Plant in northeast Ohio and new hatchback versions that went on sale last fall in Mexico. About 4,500 were sold last year.

Barra spoke to Trump last week after he tweeted about GM on Tuesday, according to people familiar with the call.

Trump his said in his tweet: “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!”

Trump during his presidential run said he planned to impose a 35 percent tariff on vehicles imported from Mexico. He has had his eyes on the auto industry and also called out Toyota Motor Corp. last week for plans to build Corollas for the U.S. at a new plant in Mexico. Trump also praised Ford Motor Co. — who he often criticized on the campaign trail — when it announced it was scrapping its plans for a new plant in Mexico.

Barra said it was too early to talk about possible tariffs and the impact on GM.

“There’s a lot of work to do,” she said. “When you really look at some of the things the president-elect has said, we have much more in common than we have different.”

Barra declined to talk about speaking with Trump.

“I think it’s safe to assume a company of our size with a significance and the number of jobs that General Motors provides in the United States that our staff is regularly talking to his staff and the communications are ongoing,” she said.

The new Terrain SUV will be built in Mexico, Barra said. The current version is produced in Canada.

Barra was tapped to serve as part of an economic policy group that will advise Trump. That group is expected to first meet in February at the White House.

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