Slow-Moving NAFTA Talks Could Be Further Hampered by Mexico's Next President

With NAFTA negotiations finally progressing a bit, now would be the perfect time for something to bring up another potential hurdle and ruffle everyone’s feathers. This time, the prospective cataclysm stems from Mexico, and has manifested itself as one man — presidential frontrunner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known colloquially as “AMLO.”

Business interests and NAFTA advocates are fearful the leftist candidate could chuck a wrench into the trade policy by adopting a hardline stance opposing the White House’s plan to redefine the agreement to favor the United States. Lopez Obrador is a long-time proponent of social programs that help vulnerable members of society. However, many criticize him for being a populist with socialist ideals that do not serve the financial well-being of the country at large.

While this is debatable, winning Mexico’s July 1st election could see him push back hard against U.S. trade proposals, stalling progress.

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Michigan to Mexico: Ford's Upcoming Electric Crossover Moves House

In public, automakers talk a great game about the industry’s electric future. The money poured into the development of electric vehicles is necessary, they say, in order to stay competitive in a changing marketplace. It wasn’t long ago that Ford claimed 100 miles of range was just fine for an EV model; not long after, following the introduction of the 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt, it announced the development of an EV crossover with far greater (300-mile) range.

Whether or not electric power becomes the dominant propulsion source in the United States remains to be seen, but no automaker can be seen resting on its laurels, shunning the most hyped technology. That doesn’t mean a company can’t be realistic about it, though.

Ford’s electric crossover, expected to roll out of Michigan’s Flat Rock assembly plant in 2020, will instead roll out out of a factory in a much warmer (and cheaper) locale.

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Toyota Pares Down Mexican Plant Plans, but 100,000 Extra Tacomas Are Still on the Way

The only thing better than two plants producing North America’s hottest-selling midsize pickup is three plants churning them out. That’s a big part of Toyota’s plan to stay ahead of General Motors and future competitors like Ford in the small yet vital segment.

Despite making every effort over the past year to build more Tacomas at its Tijuana, Mexico, and San Antonio, Texas, assembly plants, those facilities are maxed out, leading to Toyota’s August decision to punt Corolla production (initially bound for a planned Guanajuato, Mexico, plant) to a new $1.6 billion U.S. facility in the near future.

On paper, the Guanajuato plant aimed to produce 200,000 Corollas per year. Well, those plans have changed. Toyota now says it will drop its investment in the plant from $1 billion to $700 million, with production capacity dropping by half. That still means 100,000 extra Tacomas for a hungry customer base.

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Obligatory NAFTA Update: Mexico and Canada Reject U.S. Proposals as Talks Wrap Up

As the fifth round of NAFTA talks come to a close, Mexico and Canada continue to reject the United States’ demands regarding automobiles, diary, dispute panels, government procurement and the sunset clause. Among the more recent automotive proposals kicking up dirt is the U.S.’s wish to include steel in NAFTA’s tracing list and increase the mandatory local content of every car built in North America. The attempt has annoyed foreign officials and left the industry fretting about increased production costs and complexity.

The increasingly tense nature of the talks has left many wondering if President Trump will make good on his earlier threat to leave NAFTA. However, plenty of analysts are of the mind that a deal will eventually be reached between the three countries.

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Ending NAFTA Could Cost U.S. 50,000 Auto Jobs: Study

Automotive trade groups have issued warnings about the scrapping of the North American Free Trade Agreement all year. In January, the Center for Automotive Research claimed killing NAFTA could result in the elimination of at least 31,000 auto jobs within the United States. This week, a new study sponsored by the Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association upped that estimation to around 50,000.

With early negotiations not going particularly well at the moment, the new tally serves as a potential warning. If NAFTA is abandoned, North American countries would all likely revert to rules dictated by the World Trade Organization, resulting in higher tariffs from all sides.

While 50,000 fewer jobs is the upper echelon of what could be expected, a few things have to go wrong for it to reach that point. First, Mexico and Canada would have to revert to pre-NAFTA tariff levels — which were comparably higher than the United States. If so, manufacturers would almost assuredly begin sourcing more parts from the same countries where the vehicles are assembled, and gradually move production to lower-cost regions like China.

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U.S. Is Intentionally Sabotaging NAFTA Trade Talks, Officials Claim

President Donald Trump entered into office threatening to abandon the North American Free Trade Agreement if the United States was not given a better deal immediately. But, after negotiations began, it looked as if his ultimatum would be unnecessary.

Now, U.S. officials involved in NAFTA negotiations are being accused of making proposals on issues Mexico and Canada have said they would never agree to. Are these bold negotiation tactics being used to place the U.S. in a better position for future issues, or are trade arbitrators intentionally trying to sabotage talks so Trump can make good on his promise to leave the agreement?

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Mexican Auto Industry Undeterred by 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake

Automakers spent Wednesday surveying factory sites in Central Mexico after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake ravaged the region Tuesday evening. However, after some momentary shutdowns, it’s looking like business as usual for most manufacturers. Despite countless injuries, over 200 fatalities, and widespread damage yet to be fully assessed, the automotive industry emerged from the quake largely unscathed.

Arguably the hardest hit, Volkswagen Group’s Puebla plant temporarily halted assembly so workers could inspect buildings for damage. Finding no significant structural harm, factory employees resumed third-shift production of the Jetta and Golf.

Audi’s crossover plant, also in the state of Puebla, sustained no obvious damage. It’s second shift was halted early on Tuesday as well. The company said third-shift production was canceled so that employees could attend to their loved ones after the quake.

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NAFTA Renegotiations Begin, Automakers Worried Over Rules of Origin

The first round of the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations begins on Wednesday. U.S. President Donald Trump, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have planned to meet in Washington, D.C. on August 16th and stay through the 20th to discuss trade policy. Afterward, NAFTA debates will be led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo.

While this all began as a Trump campaign promise to renegotiate a better deal for the United States (or abandon the trade agreement entirely), it has evolved over the last six months into an opportunity to modernize NAFTA policies. There’s no firm deadline for the three countries to reach an agreement, but Mexico is pushing for the process to wrap up before its presidential campaign begins in earnest in February.

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By 2020, Toyota Wants to Sell Tacoma Pickup Trucks to All Y'all

There are a number of major consequences springboarding off the early August 2017 announcement that Toyota and Mazda would come together to build an assembly plant in Somewhere, United States.

First, Mazda production returns to the United States for the first time since the Mazda 6 left Flat Rock, Michigan, in 2012.

Second, the Toyota Corolla — produced now in Cambridge, Ontario, and Blue Springs, Mississippi — will be assembled in a second U.S. assembly plant.

Third, Toyota will acquire a 5-percent stake in Mazda, while Mazda returns the favor by claiming a 0.25-percent portion of Toyota.

And to the increasingly pickup-truck-conscious U.S. consumer, the most significant consequence of the Toyota-Mazda partnership will be more Toyota Tacomas. That’s right: more pickup trucks for America.

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NAFTA Trading Partners Agree: It's Time for a Change

Mexico and Canada are finally in agreement that NAFTA could use an update, not that the Trump administration gave them much of an opportunity to refuse renegotiations. However, after taking a critical look at the two-decade old agreement, representatives from all three nations have reached the consensus that it’s time for a change.

At Wednesday’s CAR Management Briefing Seminars, Colin Bird, minister-counselor for trade and economic policy at the Canadian Embassy, and Francisco Sandoval-Saqui, a Mexican trade official for his country’s Ministry of the Economy, laid out their country’s agendas for the NAFTA trade talks slated to begin in Washington, DC on August 16th.

Both countries are eager to make cross-border trade more fluid without handing an unfair advantage over to the United States. President Trump has previously accused NAFTA of being “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country,” and immediately moved to dismantle it upon taking office. While his stance has softened over the last few months and the reins have been handed over to Robert Lighthizer, Trump has remained bullish on the issue — claiming domestic automakers are giving away U.S. jobs and income to Canada and Mexico.

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Luckiest Ford Dealer in America Finds $1 Million of Weed Inside Mexican-built Fusions

Likely the answer to the prayers of one very bored sales representative, an Ohio-based Ford dealership was issued a batch of Mexican-built Fusions sedans with roughly $1 million of marijuana hidden inside. The vehicles were assembled in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico and shipped by rail into a CSX yard in Lordstown before making their way to a Youngstown Ford dealer.

According to the local police department, the dealership gradually discovered the marijuana between July 7th and July 11th — packaged in half-moon containers covertly stored in the spare-tire compartment under the trunk’s lining. Since it’s unlikely this is a bold new promotional strategy on the part of Ford, authorities are currently trying to uncover who was supposed to take delivery of the drugs before they arrived at the dealer lot.

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You're Still Not Invited to the Blue Oval Fiesta; Ford Subcompact's Status Still Unknown in North America

At TTAC, we’ve been doubtful of the Ford Fiesta’s future for many months.

It’s not merely the condition of the subcompact market, where sales are down 17 percent so far this year, that causes us to doubt.

It’s not only the Fiesta’s relative North American youth — it’s only been on sale since 2010 — that makes us wonder about the car’s long-term viability.

Indeed, our doubt isn’t even centered on those two factors combined, or on the fact that the Fiesta is on track for fewer sales in calendar year 2017 than the Nissan Versa has already produced.

No, we find it difficult to believe in the Fiesta’s prospects because Ford won’t even discuss the Fiesta’s North American future.

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Cross-Border Jeep Wrangler Theft Ring Busted in San Diego

Jeep Wrangler owners in the city of San Diego can sleep easier knowing three men are behind bars and several more are on the run following a crackdown on thieves targeting the popular off-roader.

Since 2014, more than 150 Wranglers have disappeared from the driveways and garages of San Diego homes, often while the owners are asleep. Thanks to the city’s Regional Auto Theft Taskforce (RAT), law enforcement now knows how the theft ring operated, and where exactly those Wranglers went. Bad news for owners: they’ll likely never see their vehicles again.

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Nissan Will Kill Off Juke in North America, Get Its Kicks Elsewhere

When you burst out guns blazing from the get-go, it’s sometimes difficult to follow up with an impressive sequel. Such is the case with the Juke, which will have no second generation — at least not in North America.

According to two independent sources familiar with Nissan’s future product plans who spoke with TTAC, the Japanese automaker will kill off the funky four-wheel-drive subcompact crossover after the 2017 or 2018 model year, and replace it — in body and name — with the Aguascalientes-built Nissan Kicks.

Representatives for Nissan said it would not comment on future product.

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Don't Touch Vehicle Content Rules, Say Automakers Ahead of NAFTA Negotiations

As the clock counts down to the beginning of talks aimed at revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement, automakers in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada know one thing they don’t want to see changed — rules of origin.

Auto manufacturers must abide by minimum regional (NAFTA-wide) content rules in order for vehicles to remain free from import tariffs. President Trump’s proposed reforms aim to benefit U.S. companies, but could lead to greater costs heaped onto automakers — something no profit-minded company desires.

Naturally, automakers wants their feelings known well before the three countries get down to brass tacks.

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  • Jwee You can avoid American cities, and both you and the Americans would be happier.
  • Bryan I used Costco a while back, and didn't care for it - you still wind up going to the dealership.The last time I bought a new car I used an actual car broker and I'll use one again the next time. Whatever they charged me was the best money I spent that year.
  • SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
  • SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
  • SCE to AUX Maybe those union dues will help soften the landing. Employment there used to be 4000 people, and the plant has been at risk for 15 years. Stellantis did recently say that it would be trimming dead wood so it could rebuild the company. The Cherokee is finished, but I bet the plant reopens with a smaller workforce once Stellantis figures out what to do with it.