GM CEO Barra to attend Trump inauguration

Michael Wayland, and Melissa Burden

General Motors Co. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra plans to attend President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday, the automaker confirmed Tuesday.

GM declined to provide specifics on her attendance at the event, or if she was invited to attend by Trump.

Barra is among a group of business leaders who will advise Trump on economics and policy issues. That group will meet in early February for the first time at the White House.

Other auto-related executives appointed by Trump to the Strategic and Policy Forum include Tesla Motors Inc. CEO Elon Musk and Uber Technologies Inc. CEO Travis Kalanick.

Representatives for Tesla and Uber did not immediately respond for comment on Tuesday about inauguration plans for their executives.

All three of the Detroit automakers as well as Toyota Motor Corp. have been recent subjects of comments or tweets from Trump — mainly criticizing automakers’ investments in Mexico or crediting the companies for jobs and investments in the United States.

Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields is not expected to attend the inauguration, a company spokesperson told The Detroit News on Tuesday.

A representative for Fiat Chrysler was not immediately available to comment if CEO Sergio Marchionne or any other executives from the automaker are planning to attend the event on Friday. Marchionne last week told reporters that he had not spoken with Trump or any of his advisers.

Toyota’s North American operations “will have a presence” at the inauguration, according to company spokesman Aaron Fowles. He declined to disclose which, if any, executives will attend the swearing-in ceremony.

Executives with Ford, including Fields and Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., have been the most open about ongoing dialogues with Trump and his administration. Both have said they have communicated with the president-elect.

Neither Ford nor Fields are expected to attend the inauguration, according to company spokeswoman Christin Baker. She said the “leading” executive for the festivities will be Ziad S. Ojakli, Ford group vice president of government and community relations.

Ojakli is not expected to attend the swearing-in at the mall but will be at the inauguration activities, including a parade viewing party at the automaker’s Washington, D.C., office.

On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly targeted Ford for its plans to move small car production to Mexico. The automaker has since withdrawn those plans, citing market conditions and pro-business environment it sees under Trump.

Trump tweeted earlier this month that GM was shipping some Cruze vehicles from Mexico to the U.S.: “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!”

GM builds the Cruze sedans at its Lordstown Assembly Plant in northeast Ohio and builds the Cruze hatchback in Mexico.

Barra and Trump talked following the tweet, and Barra told reporters on Jan. 8 that GM did not plan to change its production with the Cruze hatchback.

Reuters first reported Barra would attend the inauguration, which will be at least her second high-profile presidential event since starting to lead GM in 2014. Weeks after being named CEO of the Detroit-based automaker, Barra attended the State of the Union address as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama.

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