Donald Trump has taken on Ford, as well as General Motors, threatening to impose taxes if they move production out of the US and into Mexico, and he hit at another automaker Thursday with a tweet. "Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax," he posted. Various news outlets pointed out the tweet was inaccurate: Notably, Toyota has no plans for a new Baja plant (though there is an existing one that builds Tacoma pickup trucks, not Corollas), and the new plant it is building is in Guanajuato, Mexico, though production is moving there from Canada, not the US. Still, Toyota stock fell $1.2 billion five minutes after Trump's tweet, and NBC News notes stock for other Japanese carmakers, including Honda and Nissan, also fell a couple of percentage points. Toyota's response was swift.
"Toyota has been part of the cultural fabric in the US for nearly 60 years," the company said in a statement, per Mediaite. "Production volume or employment in the US will not decrease as a result of our new [Guanajuato] plant." The company also offered a reminder that it has invested nearly $22 billion in US operations, with 136,000 US employees spread out over 10 production facilities and 1,500 dealerships. "Toyota looks forward to collaborating with the Trump administration to serve in the best interests of consumers and the automotive industry," the company noted. Japan's chief Cabinet secretary told reporters Friday that Toyota was an "important corporate citizen," while its trade minister said Japan didn't have plans "to move existing plants in the US to Mexico or other countries." Meanwhile, Japanese Economy Minister Nobuteru Ishihara had no comment Friday on Trump's tweet, per Reuters.