WASHINGTON – President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday threatened Toyota with new customs duties if the Japanese automaker builds a new vehicle assembly plant in Mexico.
“Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja (California), Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax,” wrote Trump on Twitter.
The auto manufacturer announced in April 2015 its intention to invest $1 billion in Mexico to build a new plant to assemble its Corolla sedans.
The plant that the firm has been constructing in Mexico since November to produce the vehicles is in the state of Guanajuato, in contrast to what Trump said in his tweet.
In Baja California, the Japanese company already has an assembly plant, which is being expended and where it produces the Tacoma pickup truck.
Toyota currently manufactures its Corolla, a model that is the No. 2 seller among compact sedans in the United States, at plants in Mississippi and Cambridge, Canada.
Toyota is the third automaker Trump has threatened with customs duties for producing vehicles in Mexico.
On Tuesday, the president-elect threatened General Motors with customs duties if it continues to produce its Chevrolet Cruze Hatch in Mexico and export it to the United States.
Last year, the then-Republican presidential candidate, threatened Ford with a 35 percent tariff on any vehicles produced in Mexico if it were to build a new plant to produce the Ford Focus for North America in that country.
On Tuesday, Ford president Mark Fields announced the cancellation of the $1.6 billion investment in Mexico, a measure he called a “vote of confidence” in Trump.
But Ford also said that it will keep producing the Focus in Mexico at facilities that it currently has in the city of Hermosillo.
Trump’s threats against Toyota come a few hours after the president of the Japanese firm, Akio Toyoda, said in Tokyo that he has a good relationship with the U.S. president-elect and that he has no immediate plans to reduce production in Mexico.
Toyota told the media before Trump posted his latest tweet that “we will consider our options in accordance with what policies we see the president-elect adopt.”