How Auto Manufacturers Suck Up to Trump's America

Companies are trying to show they're on board with today's "America First" attitude.

Ford Fireworks
Ford Motor Company

It's not a good time to be an auto manufacturer with headquarters or factories outside the United States. President Donald Trump has threatened a 20 percent tariff on cars manufactured in Mexico, as well as a 35 percent tariff on "very bad" German cars, regardless of how much this would hurt foreign-owned factories in America or American companies bringing in cars or parts from outside our borders. Several manufacturers are doubling down on their investments in America, both to look good to the "America First" attitude of our current administration, and to bolster their existing infrastructure here because it makes good economic sense.

BMW, who Trump has specifically called out, has run a factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, since 1992, which is now BMW's largest manufacturing facility. Their X series of "Sport Activity Vehicles" is built there, 70 percent of which are exported to 140 countries around the world. BMW plans to invest another $600 million into the Spartanburg plant over the next four years and create another 1,000 jobs.

Other companies are investing in America in different ways. Hyundai recently opened a new office in Washington, DC, and announced that they will be donating $25,000 to the Capitol Police Memorial Fund. After the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise and a Capitol Police officer on June 14, this is a relatively small but highly visible effort by Hyundai to be a good neighbor in their new home in DC. Subaru takes part in many community efforts, ranging from volunteering for Habitat for Humanity to supporting Lambs Farm, "a premier non-profit organization whose mission is helping people with developmental disabilities lead productive, happy lives," to partnering with PFLAG, a national LGBTQ advocacy group, "to ensure that all youth – regardless of their family background or personal identity – are welcomed and accepted at school."

This certainly isn't all about looking good to our government. These partnerships and investments do some legitimate good in the world. But given the current political climate, the timing is probably no coincidence, either.