By on March 18, 2019

President Donald Trump weighed in on General Motors again this week. This time, the issue at hand was the fate of Lordstown Assembly — which was shuttered earlier this month as part of the automaker’s ongoing restructuring program.

“Just spoke to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors about the Lordstown Ohio plant,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “I am not happy that it is closed when everything else in our Country is BOOMING. I asked her to sell it or do something quickly. She blamed the UAW Union — I don’t care, I just want it open!”

Barra’s take on just how much the United Automobile Workers are to blame is questionable, but the president’s position is not. 

While it’s fair to criticize General Motors (and others) for partially dipping out of the United States to pursue interests elsewhere, a lot of the public ire has centered around the timing of its aggressive restructuring program. GM is still making healthy profits and the economy is strong. But that’s a gross oversimplification. We’re not going to go so far as endorse the company’s decisions, but it has a lot of capital tied up in mobility projects and global expansion right now. Even if General Motors wanted to change course immediately, it would have to reassess its entire battle plan.

But there’s more at play than GM’s existing commitments and corporate strategy. Analysts have grown less optimistic about the economy, and there are reasons to believe a global recession is just around the corner. Following a series of closing records in 2018, the stock market endured the ugliest December since the Great Depression. The front-end of the yield curve on U.S. Treasury securities also recently inverted, which typically foreshadows a recession. Meanwhile, unemployment is at a nearly 50-year low. Still, many analysts feel the situation has improved all it’s going to, and fear joblessness may soon start creeping back up.

The cyclical nature of the economy similarly suggests the world is in for some financial shrinkage. Experts have begun to suggest we’re probably past due at this point.

It’s also no surprise that the automaker wanted to shutter Lordstown Assembly. Annual Chevrolet Cruze volume peaked in 2014 at 273,060 units. By 2018, output dropped to 142,617 vehicles. Due to the sudden decline in sales, GM announced that the plant’s 2nd shift would be cut last April. Then, in November, the company said the facility would be “unallocated” in 2019. 

However, how much of the external economic aspects GM took into account is debatable and President Trump seems largely unconcerned with the details. If GM isn’t making money for America or capable of furnishing jobs, he claims other automakers would love to.

“General Motors and the UAW are going to start ‘talks’ in September/October. Why wait, start them now! I want jobs to stay in the U.S.A. and want Lordstown (Ohio), in one of the best economies in our history, opened or sold to a company who will open it up fast,” he said in a pair of tweets on Monday morning. “Car companies are all coming back to the U.S. So is everyone else. We now have the best Economy in the World, the envy of all. Get that big, beautiful plant in Ohio open now. Close a plant in China or Mexico, where you invested so heavily pre-Trump, but not in the U.S.A. Bring jobs home!”

While the presiding plan is for GM to keep Lordstown Assembly closed, regardless of the economy, the company is still in for a fight. The UAW has accused the automaker of breaking its existing contract with the union. According to the 2015 agreement, GM is expressly forbidden from closing any of its business units outside of collective bargaining agreements without there being some kind of legitimate disaster (economic or physical) at play. The union, preparing itself for an extended legal battle, just beefed up strike pay for its members.

[Image: General Motors]

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70 Comments on “President Trump Shares His Thoughts on GM … Again...”


  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    Outsourcing production to the third world is exactly the type of shit Trump would have gotten up to, had he worked in manufacturing and not real estate & TV.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    The new Blazer certainly could have been some of the new product needed at an American or Canadian plant. It is likely going to be a high-profit margin vehicle. But the short-sightedness of most American companies is in play here. Maximize short term return and don’t worry about the future…

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      Wall Street drives everything companies do/don’t do, which invariably leads to short-sighted decisions.

      They won’t allow any company to take the long view, unless it’s something new and exciting coming out of Silicon Valley, in which that company can losing money consistently but Wall Street will keep pumping up its stock. (Before Tesla, Amazon was like that.)

      Barra has to do whatever she thinks will boost GM stock, never mind Trump.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Bleh. Whenever politics and the automobile industry cross paths, bad things happen.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    All new auto plants in the US in the last ~30 years have been in the south, and they’re all from foreign companies.

    Toyota is going to invest 13 billion more in US manufacturing….in the south.

    Despite the infrastructure, talent, and location advantages of Michigan, Ohio, etc. all investment is in the south.

    Maybe Mary Barra knows what she’s talking about, re: unions.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      Factually false, but spiritually true. It might be factually true if you reduce your time scale or rephrase your claim to be a net increase in brick & mortar production capacity instead of new plant construction.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        Where are the new plants in the US outside of the south?

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        I just checked and yes, there were a handful of facilities opened in the Midwest in the last 30 years, I was wrong about that.

        But the Midwest should have never lost out to South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas when it came time for investment and new factories.

        The Midwest had EVERY advantage, except for one big one.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Indiana has picked up quite a few, but we also have right to work so maybe that has something to do with it. Princeton Indiana (Toyota), Greensburg (Honda), Lafayette (Subaru) are some relatively newer plants that have been receiving quite a bit of investment recently to add new model lines and capacity.

    • 0 avatar
      ttiguy

      I love reading people’s uninformed, ignorant comments.

      One example:
      General Motors – Lansing Delta Township. Assembly AND stamping facilities. Opened circa 2005/6

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        I admitted I was factually wrong, but I’m going to steal NoID’s line about being spiritually correct.

        What’s ignorant is believing the Midwest is competitive with the South in terms of manufacturing investment.

        What is it about the Midwest that Toyota, Hyundai-Kia, BMW, Mercedes, etc. don’t like?

      • 0 avatar
        NoID

        Lansing Grand River Assembly, 1999
        Toledo North Assembly, 1997
        Mack Engine Assembly, 1996
        Jefferson North Assembly, 1991

        I’m sure there’s more.

        • 0 avatar
          nels0300

          First of all, I said ~30 years.

          ~ means roughly.

          And I admitted there were a handful.

          Now list out the factories the south has added in that time.

          You know exactly what I’m talking about, so not sure what your angle is here.

          The south has added well over 1M units annual auto manufacturing capacity in the last 30 years.

          What’s the trend for the Midwest?

        • 0 avatar
          nels0300

          Lordstown, Hamtramck, Oshawa, Baltimore, Janesville, St. Paul, Wilmington, Indianapolis, Mansfield, Livonia, Parma, Massena, Grand Rapids,

          I’m sure there’s more…

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            You really shouldn’t count the unallocated locations as closed permanently. Grand Rapids was a stamping plant, in the later years it did truck parts. When Janesville (which was assembly) closed, GR was deemed redundant. Most newer plants have their own stamping plant, no need to ship stamped parts across the US any longer.

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            Hamtramck, Lake Orion, Lansing Grand River and Lordstown were all upgraded in the last decade or so to have their own stamping plant (and in Lordstown’s case a new body shop) along with other upgrades. I’m probably forgetting stuff that might have happened in other plants, the Michigan plants are closest to me, and I had family and friends (most all retired by now) that worked in Lordstown.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          Don’t forget Tesla rebuilding NUMMI + bullding the gigafactory, and Rivian rebuilding the Mitsubishi plant in Bloomington, IL.

          Both companies are basically building new car plants on existing sites, and neither one is operating in the south.

          P.S. The reader may dismiss Rivian if he or she chooses, since the factory isn’t currently producing vehicles for sale. But Tesla is moving the metal — and not from The South.

          • 0 avatar
            nels0300

            That’s a drop in the bucket compared to MB, Hyundai, & Toyota in Alabama, BMW in South Carolina, Kia in Georgia, Toyota in Texas (including their US HQ!!), Toyota in Mississippi.

            ALL of this could have been in the Midwest, and why not?

            The Midwest is central, the Midwest has access to Great Lakes shipping, the Midwest has over 100 years of industrial manufacturing experience with the infrastructure and talent to go with it.

            Something really must be wrong if despite all of that, all these companies chose the south.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            The southern States (as well as Indiana I know for a fact) bend way over backwards with insane tax-breaks, free land, setting up utilities/infrastructure, etc to try and lure the transplant factories over. My guess is that Ohio and Michigan have been less willing to play ball in this race to the bottom.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          three of those four were replacements for older plants.

  • avatar
    MeJ

    The only thing booming id this windbag.
    So tired of his endless BS.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      When we get someone respectable to replace Trump, the presidency will become respectable again.

      I’m getting tired of tired of the presidency being America’s drunk uncle watching Fox News and yelling at his TV. Ignoring his his moral ethical and criminal failings, the gut he uses to make decisions knows a lot less than I do about economics.

  • avatar
    MeJ

    The only thing booming is this windbag.
    So tired of his endless BS.

  • avatar
    Zipster

    Aw, MeJ, sniff, isn’t that a little harsh?

    I wonder when was the last time Ass Clown purchased an American built car, and out of his many purchases, how many were manufactured here?

  • avatar
    Fred

    Another point is GM doesn’t make as much money on economy cars like the Cruz, compared to SUVs and trucks. Sales aren’t much as noted, so what’s the point? At least that is what accounting is saying, so off they go.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Also, a volitile business environment where 25% tarriffs on raw materials can be expected to change based on the moods does not favor low margin products.

      When just a small change can change small cars from slightly profitable to highly unprofitable. On a higher margin vehicle, the same change would cause a wildly profitable vehicle to become less profitable. Future proofing the company requires getting rid of the low margin products, even if it’s ultimately a smaller (but more profitable and more resilient) company in the end.

      Personally, I drive the smallest car I can – and I like small cars. I don’t like this very much. But, the MBA logic behind GM shutting down it’s small car operation is pretty solid. I just wish they’d have spun the small cars off into and independent company and allowed it to sink or swim independently of the mothreship instead.

      • 0 avatar
        SatelliteView

        I think, Luke 42, you need to start reading news. Trump imposed tariffs to force China into a new trade deal, which apparently has been almost brewed. Trump had apparatus said that he’s for a free trade, but not unfair trade. Zoom out for just a little bit

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Being objective, some of Trump’s asks are not unreasonable – expecting NATO to pay its share, better balance on trade for example. But the way he goes about it is disgraceful and an embarrassment to our country. We are the laughing stock of the world.

      • 0 avatar
        SatelliteView

        I think, Luke 42, you need to start reading news. Trump imposed tariffs to force China into a new trade deal, which apparently has been almost brewed. Trump has always said that he’s for a free trade, but not unfair trade. Zoom out for just a little bit

  • avatar

    GM stock is tanking. Trump seems to be winning the PR war.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    I don’t see a compelling argument in the tweets…Making proudly reckless assertions about the general state of the economy, market sectors and industries can only drag us further from achieving an optimal solution. In discounting the major problem of unionization and sustainability he is only feeding the ill-conceived notion that maximizing job creation is the answer to very delicate and complex problems….

    • 0 avatar
      Roader

      Trump’s tweet will play well with blue-collar voters, especially considering the outstanding results they had last year:

      “The manufacturing industry posted net job gains of 284,000 over 2018, capping its best calendar year since 1997.

      A priority for President Donald Trump, manufacturing saw marked hiring in December with an additional 32,000 jobs. Most of the gains occurred in blue-collar durable goods manufacturing, with growth in fabricated metals and computer and electronic products, the Labor Department said in its release.”

      Manufacturing industry posts biggest annual job gain in 20 years
      Thomas Franck • ‘CNBC’ • 4 Jan 2019

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        It’s hilarious reading media puppets panning Trump’s stewardship when he’s given us the strongest manufacturing sector in twenty years. I guess he isn’t up against the varsity when he is being compared to the Obama regime. At this rate, by 2024 he’ll have undone Clinton selling us out to the Chinese.

      • 0 avatar
        tylanner

        None of that refutes the decision to close the GM plant…it doesn’t even pertain to GM specifically or the automotive industry….

        For the tweet to carry weight it needs to make sense….and it doesn’t..

  • avatar
    geozinger

    If true, this is disappointing. However, it sounds like a lot of maybes, to me.

    http://www.vindy.com/news/2019/mar/17/did-gm-nix-huge-deal-for-cruzes/?fbclid=IwAR0QNMrUAaOUpyJ-NArUXwWoLCk6yiubY94h9xYSg2Ul8lCYoDqZAc6L6SA#sidr

  • avatar
    geozinger

    If true, this is disappointing. However, it sounds like a lot of maybes, to me.

    http://www.vindy.com/news/2019/mar/17/did-gm-nix-huge-deal-for-cruzes/?fbclid=IwAR0QNMrUAaOUpyJ-NArUXwWoLCk6yiubY94h9xYSg2Ul8lCYoDqZAc6L6SA#sidr

  • avatar
    James Charles

    Satelliteview,
    I think you should read the news. Trump imposed tariffs on Allies and called them a National security threat. He imposed these tariffs on Allies and not just the Chinese.

    Trump didn’t exercise his authority or show US Leadership in forming a cohesive group of like nations to challenge the Chinese. He went out and was belligerent towards Americas friend and Allies.

    How will this approach work? Allies have already told America to ef off.

    Trump is a scam and chareleton. A man who reniges on his word, a man of no value. He’s in it for him.

    You right wing nationalist just can’t reinvent history like the Germans did during WWII, the Russians have done for decades, etc to suit and support your fear based paradigms.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Some dumb dumb people live in the midwest. Trump is the first president since Regan who has done something to help the midwest economy. The midwest economy is the best it has been in 20 years. Trump is working to make it even better by going after GM for sending jobs out of the country. What do the people in the midwest say? They want to remove Trump from office. The lack of education in the midwest is showing.

  • avatar
    GM JUNK

    LMAO at the comments. Youre head is about to explode? LMAO you have 6 more years of coming baby. Tootles!

  • avatar
    DEVILLE88

    I can’t believe some peoples comments here, We now have a president that puts America first…………..and all some of you do is call him names??? because he doesnt speak in tongue twisting ‘you cant tell im lying english’. you prefer the garbage we have had since JFK or Reagan to this a self made millionare? A man not born to politics? a man not reared in the “my son must be president world”? quite frankly some of your comments disgust me. With Trump we have an opportunity to bring busines back to America which the corporations and countries that make their money here don’t care about. I am tired of this Trump bashing, you dont have to like him,but at least respect him. He epitomises what the american dream is supposed to be, That any man can make it to that office not shoehorned or grandfathered in. The previous president was a lying joke, the one before him was pure political trash……….and it seems thats what some of you like. This is America and like everyother country thinks of itself………….we as Americans are our first priority.

  • avatar

    GM:total losers!
    https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/peugeot-family-open-merger-fca-group

    Even more so under Trump.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Doesn’t seem to understand globalization – but neither does his intended audience.

  • avatar
    waywardboi313

    Lies he is done. Most Americans are tired of being the laughing stock of the world and his many crimes are going to catch up to him and besides that we dont do racist presidents in the 20th century!


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