With eye on Trump, execs highlight U.S. investments at motor show


Bottles of champagne fill the rear of the Honda Ridgeline pickup, which was named 2017 North American Truck of the Year, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday.

ReutersDETROIT (Reuters) — Global auto executives at the Detroit auto show are highlighting their investments in the United States, mindful of President-elect Donald Trump’s attacks on automakers for building vehicles in Mexico.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said on Monday that uncertainty over Trump’s trade and tax policies could lead automakers to delay investments in Mexico, and he confirmed plans to create 2,000 jobs at Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. factories.

“The reality is the Mexican automotive industry has now for a number of years been tooled-up to try and deal with the U.S. market. If the U.S. market were not to be there, the reasons for its existence are on the line,” Marchionne told reporters at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

FCA announced on Sunday it would spend $1 billion to retool factories in Ohio and Michigan to build new Jeep sport utility vehicles, as well as a pickup truck, and potentially move production of a Ram heavy-duty pickup truck to Michigan from Mexico.

On Monday, Ford confirmed it would build a new Ranger pickup and a new SUV under the storied Bronco name at a Michigan factory that currently builds Focus small cars. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump criticized Ford’s announcement last year that it would move Focus production to Mexico.

Last week, Ford scrapped plans to build the $1.6 billion Focus plant in Mexico and said it would invest $700 million in a factory in Michigan.

Executives at Ford, Fiat Chrysler and other automakers said during interviews at the auto show their investment decisions were driven by business considerations, not Trump’s comments.

Trump praised Ford and Fiat Chrysler’s latest announcements on his Twitter account on Monday.

“It’s finally happening — Fiat Chrysler just announced plans to invest $1BILLION in Michigan and Ohio plants, adding 2000 jobs,” Trump said in a tweet. In a follow-up tweet, he added: “Ford said last week that it will expand in Michigan and U.S. instead of building a BILLION dollar plant in Mexico. Thank you Ford & Fiat C[hrysler].”

Trump’s focus on U.S. automotive jobs, and uncertainty over what policies he may introduce, have been central topics of discussions among industry officials at the annual auto show. Companies ranging from General Motors Co. to Honda Motor Co. to Daimler AG used the show to highlight new U.S. investments.

Honda will build a new hybrid model that does not have a gasoline counterpart in its lineup. The hybrid will be made in the United States in 2018 at an existing plant, and Honda said it would boost investment at its transmission plant in Georgia.Speech

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