Trump & Autos: Koreans Suck Up, Germans Don't

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 1/18/2017 03:13:00 AM
BMW seemingly says, "Yo Trump, remember our yuuuge Spartanburg, South Carolina plant?" 
I just wanted to update you on this mildly disturbing trend of various multinational concerns actually paying attention to what the trade troglodyte Trump has to say. Invariably, his complaint will have something to do with automaker x moving production to Mexico, presumably at the expense of American jobs. I will not get into a long spiel about how global supply chains are so interconnected that most things are no longer "made" in a single country. Rather, let's focus on the misguided actions stemming from those responding to such naive (Trumpian) views.

LG and Samsung were among the Trump toadies in trying to curry favor with the president-elect. Not to be outdone, Hyundai and sister company Kia are now doing the same:
Hyundai Motor Co. and affiliate Kia Motors Corp. said they will spend $3.1 billion in the U.S. in the next five years, joining other vehicle manufacturers in announcing investment plans amid threats from President-elect Donald Trump of higher levies on auto imports from Mexico.

The planned U.S. investment by South Korea’s two largest automakers is about 50 percent more than the $2.1 billion they spent in the previous five-year period, Hyundai Motor President Chung Jin-haeng told reporters in Seoul on Tuesday. The group is considering building a new factory in the U.S. and may produce Hyundai Motor’s upscale Genesis vehicles and a U.S.-specific SUV in the country, said the executive, who also oversees the strategic planning for Kia.
What's even more curious is that this move is a pre-emptive one since they haven't been "scolded" by Trump yet:
Hyundai Motor and Kia join a growing list of automakers announcing investments in the U.S., even though they have yet to be singled out by Trump.
How about the Germans? Stung by criticism that they're putting a plant in Mexico instead of the US for carms primarily destined for the US market, BMW has struck back by pointing out the vast amount of its North American production which actually occurs Stateside:
German carmakers pushed back Donald Trump’s threats of import duties on the autos they make in Mexico, pointing to extensive production expansion in the U.S. in recent years.

BMW AG, which the president-elect singled out in an interview with German newspaper Bild on Sunday, sought to defuse potential tensions by stating that its largest factory is in South Carolina and that cars made at a planned, smaller factory in Mexico will be exported globally. Trump said BMW will face a 35 percent import duty on vehicles it exports to the U.S. from Mexico.

“We take the comments seriously, but it remains to be seen if and how the announcements will be implemented by the U.S. administration,” Matthias Wissmann, president of German auto industry association VDA, said in an e-mailed statement. The U.S. Congress will probably show “substantial resistance” against the duty proposals, he said.
It's a stereotypical German reaction to nonsense like Trump's: factual and to the point. The real question is whether the Koreans are simply bull***tting the bull***t artist by publicizing plans to ramp up US production capacity that was already on the drawing board. As before, I'd be most dismayed if they diverted investment originally bound for Mexico due to Trump's verbal emissions.

As an extenuating factor, 2016 was a really bad year all around for the Koreans and their multinational firms, so they probably are wary of starting 2017 on the wrong foot as well.