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article imageOp-Ed: Trump is forcing his own politics and demands on automakers

By Karen Graham     Apr 11, 2017 in Politics
President Trump's relentless push to create more manufacturing jobs in the United States is throwing the automotive industry into the political arena, a move that may not prove to be good for the industry.
The president is now taking credit for Toyota's announcement on Monday that it was investing $1.33 billion in an existing U.S. factory in Georgetown, Kentucky, reports Fox News.
Of course, the announcement was hailed as a triumph for the administration, because, after all, Georgetown is in the heart of Trump country. But if truth be told, Toyota has been planning the retooling of the Kentucky plant for four or five years, and when they released a statement to that effect on Friday, in advance of the Monday announcement, there was no mention of Trump.
Kentucky's governor and both the state's U.S. Senators were quoted in a paragraph that was added to Toyota's statement Sunday evening. Another paragraph, said to be a quote from Trump, praises the move, saying the investment is "further evidence that manufacturers are now confident that the economic climate has greatly improved under my administration."
Automaker assembly line
An employee works on an assembly line inside a plant.
Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company
Toyota says that the Trump administration demanded the quote be added, while the White House says Toyota requested the quote. Either way, Toyota backed down, allowing Trump to crow over the great job he is doing getting automakers to fall in line with his demands.
The only thing being accomplished at the Kentucky plant is an upgrade so the company can switch to making its mid-size Camry sedan. No new jobs are being added.
It's a dangerous dance for automakers and the American public
Basically, it boils down to the fact that automakers are scared to death of Trump and his threats, and as I have said before, the only people who will get hurt is the American public. And automakers are walking a thin line, trying to please the White House without alienating customers who are on both sides of the political aisle.
Automaker assembly line
An employee works on an assembly line inside a plant.
Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company
Bloomberg is reporting that as Toyota’s North American Chief Executive Officer Jim Lentz was discussing the company's intentions to set up business units for autonomous vehicles in the U.S. last month, Trump cut him off, saying the company needed to “build those new plants here.”
And the automotive industry also has the international market to think about. Just because Trump has done away with emissions standards and many, many other safety regulations that have made our vehicles safer to drive, that doesn't mean that other countries are going to accept vehicles of lower quality - And that could put a huge dent in profits.
And lastly, remember that automakers did not have a good year-to-date sales report for 2016. I wonder just how much more of their self-esteem they are willing to give up to please Trump and does doing so mean consumers will suffer?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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