Another day, another tweet from the President-elect targeting an auto manufacturer building cars in Mexico. Today, it's Toyota under pressure for a plant that'll make Corolla sedans for North America. However, Trump tweeted about a new plant in Baja, when in fact the proposed factory will be located in Central Mexico, as The Wall Street Journal astutely pointed out.
Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2017
So let's dispel the confusion here. The plant in Baja already exists, and builds Tacoma mid-size pickups. Toyota has already announced plans to invest $150 million in the Baja plant to expand Tacoma production, but the plant doesn't (and won't) have anything to do with Corolla production under the current plan.
As far as the Corolla plant, it is supposed to be constructed in Guanajuato. Toyota announced these plans back in 2015, and expects the plant to produce around 200,000 cars a year to be sold in North America. As we reported back at the time of the announcement, the plant would cost Toyota around $1 billion and start producing cars in 2019. The idea was for some of the production that took place at the Cambridge plant in Ontario, Canada, to be shifted to Mexico. Some Corollas are also built in a factory in Mississippi, and that probably won't change regardless of whether the Mexican factory moves forward or not.
It's not clear at this stage if Toyota will adjust its plans in Mexico, as Ford did recently. Just earlier today, Toyota president Akio Toyoda struck a conciliatory tone in comments about Trump reported by the WSJ, stating that Toyota's corporate aims were aligned with the Trump administration's. Judging by Trump's tweet today, that might not be the case. At least not in Trump's eyes.
Toyota released the following statement in response to Trump's tweet:
"Toyota has been part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. for nearly 60 years. Production volume or employment in the U.S. will not decrease as a result of our new plant in Guanajuato, Mexico announced in April 2015. With more than $21.9 billion direct investment in the U.S., 10 manufacturing facilities, 1,500 dealerships and 136,000 employees, Toyota looks forward to collaborating with the Trump Administration to serve in the best interests of consumers and the automotive industry."