Trump and Detroit: Another Day, Another Automaker Caves

From left, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields speak to reporters after their meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTSX54A

No one has said, so far, that Donald Trump isn’t effective using what they call the “bully pulpit” of his soon-to-be-office to get his way. This time, General Motors has caved following Trump’s statement last week: “I hope General Motors will be following …  And I think they will.”

The incoming president made that statement Jan. 11 at his first – and only – press conference in six months. Until he called out GM at the press conference, the only other ruminations out the country’s almost-leader have been via midnight Twitter storms that have been, by and large, highly inaccurate though they have made their points.

GM made its move Monday night only days after Trump made his news conference remarks. Trump had issued a series of tweets that have, in the last couple of weeks, ripped the plans some automakers – GM and Ford — to build plants in Mexico. Monday night GM announced investments totaling at least $1 billion that would create 1,000 jobs in the U.S. An Automotive News report, quoting two sources with knowledge of the GM announcement, disclosed the automaker’s plan.  A spokesperson for the automaker would only say there is a major announcement set for Tuesday.

So far, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Autos, GM and Toyota as well as BMW have come under the lens of Trump’s glaring Twitter-fed spotlight. He called out Ford’s announcement of a $1.6 billion Mexican plant. Ford quickly crumbled by canceling the plan and moving the money back to the U.S.  Meantime, FCA has also announced plans to spend $1 billion in its plants and add 2,000 jobs, an expansion that has been on the books for a time. FCA was caught in the bright glare of a misaimed Trump tweet (not the first, either). FCA has only announced plans for its U.S. expansion, nothing else.

By the way, after the Ford and FCA announcements, Trump changed his tune and praised them, linking their move in the U.S. to his tweets, not the first time he has taken this kind of credit. Trump’s tweetments spare no one. One of his economic advisers is Mary Barra, also GM’s  chief executive. Earlier, she told reporters, in no uncertain terms that while she is looking forward to growing employment in the U.S. and telling that story.  Today’s GM announcement resulted from actions two or three years ago. Don’t forget to check out Donald Trump Cars.