President-elect Donald Trump set his sights Thursday on Toyota, attacking the Japanese automaker for expanding in Mexico to sell more vehicles to Americans, as he builds support for his proposed tariff on vehicles imported to the U.S.
The attack heightens tension between Trump and the auto industry over vehicles that are made in foreign markets for sale to American consumers.
“NO WAY!” Trump said in a tweet about Toyota. “Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.”
Trump has proposed renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement to punish companies that manufacture vehicles in Mexico and sell them in the U.S. with a 35% tariff. Toyota joins General Motors and Ford Motor as targets of Trump’s attacks on the auto industry. On Tuesday he criticized GM for selling a made-in-Mexico version of the Chevrolet Cruze in the U.S.
Shares of Toyota, which is based in Japan, that are traded in New York dipped 0.5% to $120.54 after the Trump tweet.
Over the decades, Toyota has developed a massive footprint of plants in the U.S. It includes factories in Kentucky, Alabama, West Virginia, Texas and Indiana, from which it exports more than 160,000 vehicles annually to 40 countries.
Toyota said Thursday in a statement that it “has been part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. for nearly 60 years. The company said it would not slash U.S. production volume or jobs as a result of its under-construction $1 billion Corolla production plant in the state of Guanajuato in Central Mexico.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Nathan Bomey