How Decision 2016 Will Affect the Auto Industry

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

As this is written in late June, the 2016 presidential race has been whittled down to two presumptive nominees from the two major political parties, and two or three more candidates that should appear on ballots nationwide. There are dozens of issues facing the public, certainly, but as The Truth About Cars is obviously an automotive-focused site, we felt discussing issues not related to the auto industry is well beyond the scope of our talents or expertise.

However, there are plenty of issues that will affect our industry, so we are establishing a discussion on the candidate’s positions on those issues. We aim to present a fair, unbiased assessment that will no doubt be shredded within the first five comments, so have at it.

As we see it, there are three broad issues facing the next President that have an impact on the auto industry: labor, the environment, and international trade.

Labor and International Trade

Ultimately, labor and international trade issues are linked, as the two mainstream party candidates — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — have both made statements opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as signed by President Obama in February.

Donald Trump, writing in USA Today in March:

One of the factors driving this economic devastation is America’s disastrous trade policies. Throughout history, at the center of any thriving country has been a thriving manufacturing sector. But under decades of failed leadership, the United States has gone from being the globe’s manufacturing powerhouse – the envy of the world – through a rapid deindustrialization that has evaporated entire communities.

The number of jobs and amount of wealth and income the United States have given way in so short a time is staggering, likely unprecedented. And the situation is about to get drastically worse if the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not stopped. One of the first casualties of the TPP will be America’s auto industry…

Hillary Clinton, speaking also in March to autoworkers in Youngstown, Ohio, as quoted in Politico:

We can not let rules of origin allow China – or anyone else, but principally China – to go around trade agreements. It’s one of the reasons why I oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership because when I saw what was in it, it was clear to me there were too many loopholes, too many opportunities for folks to be taken advantage of.

Regarding labor, Clinton has pledged to support businesses with tax credits and other incentives to provide apprenticeships and other on-the-job training. While the powerful AFL-CIO union consortium has endorsed Clinton, and the UAW has further denounced Trump’s candidacy, there is concern that the typical union member has a long memory of the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed in 1993 by Clinton’s husband, then-President Bill Clinton.

Among third-party candidates, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has advocated for right-to-work laws, which keep unions from requiring employees from joining the brotherhood if they do not wish to do so. Furthermore, Johnson stated job creation comes from creating an environment where private businesses can perform free of onerous government regulation:

Government regulation should only exist to protect citizens from bad actors and the harm they might do to health, safety, and property. Regulation should not be used to manipulate behavior, manage private lives and businesses, and to place unnecessary burdens on those who make our economy work. Eliminating unnecessary regulations and applying common sense to those rules that are necessary will free up capital and allow those who want and need to create jobs to do so.

Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein promotes a similar platform to that of Bernie Sanders on labor, as both advocate for increasing the federal minimum wage to $15/hour. Stein continues:

Create living-wage jobs for every American who needs work, replacing unemployment offices with employment offices. Advance workers rights to form unions, achieve workplace democracy, and keep a fair share of wealth they create.

These agreements between the Sanders and Stein platforms have led Dr. Stein to propose that Sanders continue his campaign atop the Green Party ticket, as Sanders winds down his bid for the Democratic Party nomination after Clinton clinched the required number of delegates.


Climate change — often called global warming — is another major issue facing candidates, as they debate the environmental impact of a century of petroleum combustion by automobiles.

Hillary Clinton has proposed that fixing climate change isn’t merely an opportunity to create a better world to live in. Rather, she suggests that replacing oil with renewable energies such as solar can create jobs. As she wrote in Time in November:

I won’t let anyone to take us backward, deny our economy the benefits of harnessing a clean energy future, or force our children to endure the catastrophe that would result from unchecked climate change.

Donald Trump, however, has stated that he is “not a great believer in man-made climate change.” That said, he is apparently concerned enough about global warming to cite it in a request to build a sea wall to protect one of his golf courses in Ireland. In a tweet from several years ago, Trump framed climate change as a concept imagined by the Chinese to impact American manufacturing:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012

Whether Dr. Jill Stein or Bernie Sanders tops the Green Party’s ticket in November, one can reasonably deduce from the party’s name that alternative, renewable energy sources will be a priority. Stein wants to “ end destructive energy extraction: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, and uranium mines.” Sanders basically concurs, while encouraging a “fair” transition for those now working in the fossil-fuel industry, ensuring continued employment and wages.

Gary Johnson acknowledges his belief that global warming is caused by humans. That said, while he agrees that protecting natural resources from contamination is a vital role of government, choosing an energy alternative should be handled by the free market, not by government employees or elected officials who many not have the interests of the entire nation at heart.


We have about five months left until Election Day. Each of these five candidates have varying positions that affect not just the auto industry, but the future of this country. Please carefully consider what we have written here, but do note that the author was only a political science major for about six months, mostly before he reached voting age.

Read the candidate’s websites (listed below alphabetically), read reputable news sources, and ask questions of the candidates before pulling the lever on November 8th.

Hillary Clinton

Gary Johnson

Bernie Sanders

Jill Stein

Donald Trump

In interest of full disclosure, Chris Tonn is a libertarian, though he is not a member of the Libertarian Party. In 2012, he did support Gary Johnson’s campaign as a member of the Libertarian Party, on a limited basis.

[Image: By Donald Trump August 19, 2015 (cropped).jpg: BU Rob13Hillary Clinton by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg: Gage [ GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • Mchan1 Mchan1 on Jun 22, 2016

    Trump vs Hillary... pick the lessor of 2 evils. The country needs jobs! The country needs Less regulations! The country needs a smaller federal and state governments! Generally, Can't wait for Boomers to die off! Having read and heard elsewhere regarding Boomers.. "Die Already!" Then you have to deal with their spoiled, entitled Brats.. the millennials, who are following their parents' footsteps in destroying America. Pushing PC cr@p to Everyone who disagrees with them. It's easy to turn from somewhat liberal to a conservative when dealing with the Boomers and their D@mn millennials! Guess maturing means getting some wisdom! Heaven help America!

  • Fred Fred on Jun 23, 2016

    258, and counting, mostly bs comments of name calling and picking on poor BTSR. No matter the results it looks like we will still be divided and nothing will get done. Cries of compromise will go unanswered and we will keep pointing fingers. That's too bad for YOU. Me I'll be retired, living in the Sierras and I'll be fine. Well as long as I stay healthy and you cheap ass Tea Party clowns don't screw up my Medicare and Social Security.

  • Philip I love seeing these stories regarding concepts that I have vague memories of from collector magazines, books, etc (usually by the esteemed Richard Langworth who I credit for most of my car history knowledge!!!). On a tangent here, I remember reading Lee Iacocca's autobiography in the late 1980s, and being impressed, though on a second reading, my older and self realized why Henry Ford II must have found him irritating. He took credit for and boasted about everything successful being his alone, and sidestepped anything that was unsuccessful. Although a very interesting about some of the history of the US car industry from the 1950s through the 1980s, one needs to remind oneself of the subjective recounting in this book. Iacocca mentioned Henry II's motto "Never complain; never explain" which is basically the M.O. of the Royal Family, so few heard his side of the story. I first began to question Iacocca's rationale when he calls himself "The Father of the Mustang". He even said how so many people have taken credit for the Mustang that he would hate to be seen in public with the mother. To me, much of the Mustang's success needs to be credited to the DESIGNER Joe Oros. If the car did not have that iconic appearance, it wouldn't have become an icon. Of course accounting (making it affordable), marketing (identifying and understanding the car's market) and engineering (building a car from a Falcon base to meet the cost and marketing goals) were also instrumental, as well as Iacocca's leadership....but truth be told, I don't give him much credit at all. If he did it all, it would have looked as dowdy as a 1980s K-car. He simply did not grasp car style and design like a Bill Mitchell or John Delorean at GM. Hell, in the same book he claims credit for the Brougham era four-door Thunderbird with landau bars (ugh) and putting a "Rolls-Royce grille" on the Continental Mark III. Interesting ideas, but made the cars look chintzy, old-fashioned and pretentious. Dean Martin found them cool as "Matt Helm" in the late 1960s, but he was already well into middle age by then. It's hard not to laugh at these cartoon vehicles.
  • Dwford The real crime is not bringing this EV to the US (along with the Jeep Avenger EV)
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Another Hyunkia'sis? 🙈
  • SCE to AUX "Hyundai told us that perhaps he or she is a performance enthusiast who is EV hesitant."I'm not so sure. If you're 'EV hesitant', you're not going to jump into a $66k performance car for your first EV experience, especially with its compromised range. Unless this car is purchased as a weekend toy, which perhaps Hyundai is describing.Quite the opposite, I think this car is for a 2nd-time EV buyer (like me*) who understands what they're getting into. Even the Model 3 Performance is a less overt track star.*But since I have no interest in owning a performance car, this one wouldn't be for me. A heavily-discounted standard Ioniq 5 (or 6) would be fine.Tim - When you say the car is longer and wider, is that achieved with cladding changes, or metal (like the Raptor)?
  • JMII I doubt Hyundai would spend the development costs without having some idea of a target buyer.As an occasional track rat myself I can't imagine such a buyer exists. Nearly $70k nets you a really good track toy especially on the used market. This seems like a bunch of gimmicks applied to a decent hot hatch EV that isn't going to impression anyone given its badge. Normally I'd cheer such a thing but it seems silly. Its almost like they made this just for fun. That is awesome and I appreciate it but given the small niche I gotta think the development time, money and effort should have been focused elsewhere. Something more mainstream? Or is this Hyundai's attempt at some kind of halo sports car?Also seems Hyundai never reviles sales targets so its hard to judge successful products in their line up. I wonder how brutal depreciation will be on these things. In two years at $40k this would a total hoot.So no active dampers on this model?