Chavez To Toyota: Work Faster, Or Else!

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Venezuela’s, well, President Hugo Chavez took a page out of the U.S. government’s playbook, and ordered Toyota’s local assembly plant to make more cars, pronto. If the Japanese don’t produce an adequate number of vehicles designed for rural areas, Chavez will expropriate Toyota and kick them out of Venezuela.

According to this morning’s indignant Nikkei [sub,] Chavez said his socialist government is going to apply strict quotas on the number and types of vehicles firms can produce. He ordered an immediate inspection of Toyota’s facilities to see how many “rustic vehicles” they are currently producing. (“Rustic,” not “rusty.”)

“They’ll have to fulfill (the quotas), and if not, they can get out,” said Chavez during a televised address. “We’ll bring in another company.” And what company would that be?

Chavez said if it turn out that Toyota is not producing what he thinks Toyota should produce, his government may take over the facilities and have a Chinese company operate it.

“We’ll take, we’ll expropriate it, we’ll pay them what it’s worth and immediately call on the Chinese,” Chavez said. Chinese firms, he said, are willing to make vehicles made for the countryside.

Toyota’s assembly plant in Venezuela has more than 2,000 workers, and has been in this Venezuela for more than 50 years. Methinks the Chinese government will think twice about accepting the Venezuelan invitation. The Chinese parts industry is heavily intertwined with Japan. Chinese state-owned automakers are engaged in joint ventures with Toyota and other Japanese makers. Previously strenuous Sino-Japanese relations are thawing, and won’t be risked for a banana state that happens to sit on oil. Toyota drivers, don’t buy your gas at Valero to show support to your brand.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Cammy Corrigan Cammy Corrigan on Dec 25, 2009
    Unless health care is dispensed poorly by the government (as it is the case in the UK,) What? Stop drinking the press kool-aid. Yes the system isn't perfect and yes a few people do complain that the NHS is poor. But people always forget the millions who are successfully treated with no issues. The NHS does need tuning up, but is streets ahead of other health systems. People need to stop listening to tossers like Daniel Hannan.
  • Jimboy Jimboy on Dec 26, 2009

    Once again we stand idly by watching the creation of a new version of Stalin/Hitler/Hussein/Pol Pot/Mao. Eventually someone will have to go in and save the Venezuelans from their own short sightedness. That will most likely be the people most vilified by Chavez, because he knows his regime can't stand under any objective, honest scrutiny. For you Chavez supporters, try living there if you think its so special.

  • 3-On-The-Tree To say your people are total monsters is an unfair statement. You can judge the Japanese government but to say the citizens are culpable or responsible is wrong. That’s like saying every Caucasian person in the U.S is responsible for slavery or the civil rights era of violence and discrimination against African Americans and are benefiting from it. That’s 79 years ago, the average Japanese citizen born during WWII has nothing to do with what happened. Even my Japanese grandmother who was living in Yokohama whose home was firebombed was just trying to survive with 3 kids and a husband fighting in the war. Just like every war the citizens suffer, I saw it in Iraq. You can’t judge the people from the misdeeds of their government, my mom was born after the war, you really think she is responsible for what happened?
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  • Wolfwagen Tim, Now you should ask the B&B who we want to succeed and why. You could limit it to EV or non- North American MFGs.