Blasting BMW, Trump Shows Scary Naivete – Forbes

Posted: Monday, January 16, 2017

A copy of the January 16 issue of German tabloid Bild Zeitung (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A week ago, I carelessly opined that BMW would be among the last automakers exposed to the wrath of Trump. After all, the Bavarian automaker produces more cars in the U.S. than it sells in-country, a rare honor shared only with Tesla and Daimler. As a net-exporter of cars, BMW deserves a medal from the impending president. Boy was I wrong to apply logic. Yesterday, BMW was next in line to be bludgeoned by the bully-in-chief.

In an interview with Germany’s BILD Zeitung, published late Sunday night, Trump said BMW would “waste its time and money” building a plant in Mexico, because Trump would slap the Bavarian automaker with his infamous “35% border tax.” After Ford, GM, and Toyota, BMW is the fourth automaker in Trump’s cross-hairs.

In the interview – it is translated into German, and behind BILD’s paywall – Trump complains that the Germans were “very unfair to the U.S.” After all, said Trump, “how many Chevrolets do you see in Germany?” With that, Trump once again demonstrated that he learned less about the car business than a 14 year-old reader of the Jalopnik carblog. The 14 yo knows that GM pulled Chevrolet from the European market in 2015, after an attempt to turn Chevrolet into a global car brand turned into, to steal Trump’s lines, a “total disaster.” To make matters worse for the Europeans, and now Trump, the Chevrolets weren’t American, but made-in-Korea.

What Trump also failed to grasp is the fact that GM has a strong presence in Germany and Europe. It is called Opel, and Vauxhall in the UK. Opel, and also Ford, are big in Germany. Last year, each sold a similar amount of cars in Germany as BMW. Ford Europe and Opel are unlikely to be looking forward to become collateral damage of a trade war between the U.S. and the EU.

In Germany, a government official already warned that German auto production in the United States, and with it many jobs, could be threatened if U.S. President-elect Donald Trump puts in place protectionist trade measures, Reuters wrote.

“Someone will have to explain to him that German companies are already producing in the United States and exporting to the whole world from there,” said Jürgen Hardt, transatlantic coordinator of the German government. “That would be in jeopardy if Trump sets an international protectionist spiral into motion.”

Imagine if Trump’s “how many Chevrolets” logic sets a precedent in the world. Coca Cola is huge in Germany. “How much Fassbrause is bought in America?” None? Unfair. 50% tax on Coke. You get the picture. Remember, the 25% “chicken tax” on light trucks was a reaction to German tariffs on chicken. Chicken are free to go, the tax is still around.

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