Auto industry’s Trump fear: ‘Everyone dreadeds being subject of a tweet’

Auto executives and analysts are fretting about how Trump will use the bully pulpit of his office and his Twitter account to try and force radical change

I like the car Im in now. Its a Chevrolet Suburban. Made in the USA, Donald Trump told the Detroit News last year when the then presidential hopeful was asked to name his favorite car from his 100-plus vehicle fleet that includes a scissor-door Lamborghini Diablo and a 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.

For General Motors, Chevys owner, it was nice PR, the latest in a series of endorsements from the Trumps that reach back like a stretch limo to the Cadillac Trumps landlord father Fred used to pick up his rent checks. In the 1980s Donald Trump even worked on building a Trump-branded Cadillac, complete with VCR and paper shredder. The Trumps may be fans of the USs largest car manufacturer but GM, and the car industry in general, should have been paying more attention to the final sentence of his pre-election endorsement: Made in the USA.

Trump hit out at the car industry last week like a drive-by shooter, firing off a series of angry tweets about their outsourcing of US jobs. Those tweets will be the hottest topic this week as Detroits annual car jamboree, the North American International Auto Show, gets started. Its a chance for the industry to show off all its latest products and for its executives to address the media about the future. Trumps blimp-like shadow is overhanging the event as executives and analysts fret about how this overtly interventionist president will use the bully pulpit of his office, and his Twitter account, to try and force a radical change in the way they do business.

Pretty much everybody is dreading being the subject of a tweet. Getting hauled out into the court of public opinion with virtually no warning is not something anybody wants to get engaged with, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the industry, labor and economics group at the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research (CAR).

Inside
Inside Donald Trumps 1988 Cadillac: the best limo in the world had rosewood interiors and was equipped with a fax machine, TV, VCR, paper shredder and built-in safe. Photograph: Jules Annan / Barcroft Images

The auto industry matters to the US and to Trump. Six years after a recession that almost destroyed it, the US car industry has made a miraculous recovery. Last week it reported record sales for 2016. Auto manufacturers, suppliers and dealers employ over 1.5 million people and directly contribute to the creation of another 5.7m jobs, according to the CAR.

Trump won thanks in large part to states where the auto industry is strongest. The Republican candidate took Michigan, home to the auto show and still the industrys hub, from the Democrats for the first time since 1988 with a campaign that tore into companies that have sent those voters jobs abroad, especially to Mexico. Ford bore the brunt of Trumps attacks during the election. Last week it was GMs turn. Then Toyotas.

General Motors is sending Mexican-made model of Chevy Cruze to US car dealers-tax free across border. Make in USA or pay big border tax! the president elect warned via his favorite megaphone, Twitter.

Two days later, he was after Toyota. Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for US. NO WAY! Build plant in US or pay big border tax, he tweeted. Toyotas plans were old news but the tweet came on the same day that its president, Akio Toyoda, had told reporters he was keen to work with the president-elect.

Auto industry jobs across the US.

These were the latest in a series of attacks on major US employers, including Carrier, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, that have so far brought CEOs running, cap in hand, to Trump Tower to make up for their alleged corporate misdeeds. Shortly after the GM tweet, Ford announced it had canned plans to open a $1.6bn plant in Mexico and would add new jobs building electric and hybrid vehicles at a plant in Flat Rock, Michigan. Trump hailed the move: Thank you to Ford for scrapping a new plant in Mexico and creating 700 new jobs in the US. This is just the beginning much more to follow, he tweeted.

Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for Kelley Blue Book, said Trump was playing to his base and a lot of the voters who put him in office were industrial midwest, blue collar, union workers. All his tweets and pronouncements have been geared to addressing that audience, said Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for Kelley Blue Book.

Ford had already warned that the car industry was expecting a slowdown in sales, especially of smaller vehicles like the ones that would have been built in Mexico. So scrapping the plan makes economic as well as political sense for the company, but market watchers doubt the industry and Trumps agendas will remain compatible.

GM is expected to start laying off more than 3,000 factory workers in Michigan and Ohio, another state that voted for Trump, starting later this month. Will they defend that decision if Trump goes on the attack?

The car industry is truly international and China is its largest market. GM and its joint venture partners sold 3.87m vehicles in China in 2016, up 7.1% from the previous year. China accounts for a third of GMs sales. Like its corporate peers, GM has so far remained silent over Trumps anti-China rhetoric, but a trade war would be a disaster for the company.

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Tesla tells it has ‘no way of knowing’ if autopilot was used in fatal Chinese accident

The damage amassed during the collision that killed Gao Yaning built the car physically incapable of determining if autopilot was engaged, the company said

Tesla Motor is analyse the cause of a fatal crash in China involving one of its vehicles but said that it has no way of knowing if its semi-automated autopilot system was engaged at the time of the accident.

Because of the damage caused by the collision, the car was physically incapable of transmitting log data to our servers, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Chinas CCTV on Wednesday reported 23 -year-old Gao Yaning died in January after crashing into the back of a road-sweeping vehicle while driving a Tesla car on a highway in the north-eastern province of Hebei.

Gaos family filed the lawsuit in a Beijing court in July against Tesla and the Beijing-based dealer who had sold Gao the car.

Tesla, in its statement, said it had tried repeatedly to work with Gaos family to determine the cause of the accident, but the family has not provided us with any additional information that would allow us to do so.

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Trump begins rollback of Obama’s car pollution standards to curb emissions

Automakers welcome presidents plan for EPA to review fuel efficiency mandate while critics warn reversal would endanger health and environment

Donald Trump has begun the process of rolling back carbon pollution standards for vehicles following a meeting with automakers in Detroit, Michigan.

Trump has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to review fuel efficiency standards that were a key plank of Barack Obamas effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The move is a victory for carmakers who have claimed the standards are too onerous and out of step with Americans car buying habits.

These standards are costly for automakers and the American people, said the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt.

We will work with our partners at the department of transport to take a fresh look to determine if this approach is realistic. This thorough review will help ensure that this national program is good for consumers and good for the environment.

In an agreement struck with automakers in 2012, the Obama administration required that cars run 54.4 miles per gallon of fuel by 2025. This standard, up from 27.5 miles per gallon, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6bn tons over the lifetime of new vehicles and save 2m gallons of oil per day by 2025.

In the final month of Obamas presidency, the EPA affirmed in a midterm review that automakers are well positioned to meet the new standard. Trump is ordering a review of this finding, opening the way for a weaker standard to be drawn up. The White House said the new review will rely on the best available data and information, which the previous administration ignored.

A White House official said the automakers feel the EPA shoved it down their throats and that the standards needed to be redone.

The process was very short-circuited, said the Trump official, who spoke anonymously before the presidents announcement. There was a lot of data that was submitted, and I think it is fair to say the Obama EPA just ignored it.

Trump unveiled the review at an event in Detroit where he met with executives from companies, including General Motors, Ford and Fiat. The president said he was going to bring a lot of jobs back to Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Dennis Williams, president of the United Auto Workers union, raised concerns about the environmental impact of more loose fuel efficiency standards. In response, Trump said: We all agree with you 100%. One hundred percent. We want you to make great cars, but if it takes an extra thimble of fuel, we want you to do it.

Former EPA officials and environmental groups have decried the reversal, pointing out that carmakers had previously complained about fuel efficiency standards only to easily meet the requirements due to the evolution of technology. There are already more than 100 car and SUV models that meet standards that stretch beyond 2020, with the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Spark and Smart ForTwo already matching the 2025 standard.

American drivers are also set to lose out, with the Obama rules forecast to save an average of $8,000 on gasoline costs for a new car.

We need to put clean car standards in the fast lane to keep our air clean and our climate safe, said Michael Brune, executive director of environmental group, the Sierra Club. Donald Trump and the automakers are endangering the health of our children and families by abolishing lifesaving vehicle emissions protections that cut down on dangerous smog pollution and asthma attacks.

Kristin Igusky, climate program associate at the World Resources Institute, added: Theres no doubt that the current standards are reasonable and achievable. In fact, the industry as a whole has surpassed the vehicle standards in each of the last four years, while creating jobs and selling more vehicles than ever.

Carmakers welcomed the review. Mitch Bainwol, president and chief executive of trade lobby group, Auto Alliance, said:By restarting this review, analysis rather than politics will produce a final decision.

Trumps rolling back of fuel efficiency standards is set to be followed by further actions to dismantle climate policies enacted by Obama. The administration is set to lift a moratorium on coalmining on federal land and start to unpick various climate rules, including the Clean Power Plan, which imposes emissions limits on the states.

Trump is also mulling whether to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord. On Wednesday, an alliance of 1,000 US companies took out ads in Washington DC publications to urge Trump to stay in the deal and work towards a low-carbon economy.

The group, which includes Mars, General Mills and Ikea, warned that failure to tackle climate change could put Americas economic prosperity at risk.

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Toyota will face ‘big border tax’ if Mexico plant attains US automobiles, Trump says

The foreign vehicle company plans to fabricate 200,000 Corollas in Baja, as Trump continues to threaten automakers to move production out of Mexico

Donald Trump threatened Toyota on Thursday with a big perimeter tax if it didnt build cars meant for the US within the states, the latest in a series of attacks on car manufacturers and the first time since his election that he has threatened a foreign company.

Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump)

Toyota Motor told will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla automobiles for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big perimeter tax.

January 5, 2017

The$ 1bn plant will be located Guanajuato, a state in central Mexico , not Baja California, as Trump tweeted. Toyota plans to increase capacity at an existing plant in Tijuana, Baja California, that makes Tacoma pickup trucks.

Toyota plans to manufacture 200,000 Corollas at the new plant. The Corolla is the second bestselling compact car in the US behind fellow Japanese producer Hondas Civic.

Trumps latest threat follows a similar one against General Motor over its plans to fabricate compact cars south of the border for US export.

Jorge Guajardo, the former Mexican ambassador to China, immediately lit into Trump: If you think intentionally wrecking your neighbors economy is whats going to bring peace and stability to US youre in for a big amaze, he tweeted.

Trump, who was elected on a promise to restore US manufacturing jobs, has expended the week informing automakers to move their compact car production out of Mexico. On Tuesday he told GM that it too must weigh his opinion favorably against the financial efficiencies offered on foreign clay. Make in U.S.A. or pay big perimeter tax! Trump tweeted.

Last month Trump threatened retribution against companies outsourcing mill work to foreign facilities. There will be a taxation on our soon to be strong border of 35% for these companies, he tweeted, naming automobile and air conditioner manufacturers in the same series of remarks.

In recent weeks, Trump also threatened aerospace firms Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, both of which rely heavily on government contracts for multibillion-dollar revenues. Those menaces, also tweeted, shocked stockholders and caused stock prices to plummet.

But threatening car companies with taxation has barely caused the market to blink. The US president cannot personally levy taxes; that obligation falls to country legislatures and the US House of Representatives, which holds the power of the purse.

Trumps campaign platform heavily criticized companies for moving labor out of the US, but thus far his preferred method of dealing with corporations has been rewards via back channels, rather than punishment. Instead of taxing air conditioner company Carrier more for exporting undertakings, however, Trump and Indiana governor Mike Pence offered the Indiana-based company$ 7m in tax breaks to maintain 700 jobs.

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Detroit’s auto giants take battle to big tech as largest US car present kicks into gear

The North American International Auto show has been overshadowed by CES but its decided to stick to what it does best: vehicles and trucks , not hi-tech

Lost cities #10: Fordlandia – the failure of Henry Ford’s utopian city in the Amazon

In the 1920s the US industrialist wanted to found a city based on the values that made his company a success while, of course, producing cheap rubber. The jungle city that bore his name ended up one of his biggest failures

In 1928, northern Brazil was captivated by an enticing bit of news. The regions residents were about to receive a new visitor, a man who came with the promise of reviving their ailing economy and introducing them to a whole new way of life Henry Ford.

Local papers began raving about their future neighbour. Speculation ran wild: some columnists opined that Ford would be building a new railroad to the coast, or a new factory for his cars. Above all, they just wanted to know when he would be arriving.

Officially, Fords interest in Brazil was a business venture: the monopoly on Sri Lankan rubber maintained by Britain was driving up costs for his new Model A cars, so he wanted to find a cheap source of latex that would allow the Ford Motor Company to produce its own tyres, to cut costs.

But Fords vision ran much deeper. His goal was not simply to ship latex back to the companys Dearborn HQ it was to build his vision of the ideal city. A city that would fuse the same concepts that Ford had championed throughout his career, and bring a better future to a forgotten part of the planet. And that city would bear his name: Fordlandia.

Fordlandia locator map

It is difficult to overstate the reputation Henry Ford had built for himself by that time whether in Brazil, America, or anywhere else on the planet. In his day, Fords name was every bit as evocative of the glimmering promise of technological revolution as Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg perhaps even more so.

Within a decade of its founding in Dearborn, Michigan in 1903, the Ford Motor Company had revolutionised car production by introducing the assembly line isolating tasks within the complex process of car assembly, allowing new models of his flagship vehicle, the Model T, to be cranked out faster than ever before, making the company a global success.

Yet Fords greatest innovation was arguably not mechanical, but social. He took pride in the fair treatment of his staff, and in 1914, to great fanfare, he proclaimed that all Ford workers would receive a daily salary of $5 (the equivalent of $120 (90) today).

Ford believed fair treatment would make his workers more responsible citizens and, in the process, solidify a client base for manufacturers. The Rev Samuel Marquis, one the heads of Fords employee relations office, once proclaimed that Fords cars were the by-products of his real business, which is the making of men.

But some of Fords social ideas were highly sinister most notoriously his anti-semitism, which featured prominently in a newspaper he himself printed, the Dearborn Independent.

He became increasingly convinced that his role in advancing society had to go beyond the factory floor, and encompass entire cities. While he succeeded in bringing some of his smaller urban planning concepts to life, his much larger project, a massive manufacturing city to be built in northern Alabama 75 miles long, with power supplied by damming the Tennessee river never got off the ground.

Eventually, Ford settled on a location for his ideal city that was a good deal further south than Alabama: the Amazon.

A work of civilisation

By the 1920s, the Amazon basin lay in shambles. At the end of the previous century, the region had benefited from a monopoly on global rubber production, skyrocketing demands, and easy transportation via the navigable waters of the Amazon river.

Cities along the river had swelled with new residents seeking their fortunes, and had lined their streets with opulent new buildings. Belem, at the mouth of the river, became the busiest port in Brazil; upriver, Manaus became world famous for its decadent Amazon Theatre.

Sawmill
The sawmill and power house at Fordlandia were abandoned in 1945. Photograph: The collections of Henry Ford

But the cultivation of rubber trees could not be standardised; placing them too close together exposed them to blight and parasites. And though these trees only grew natively in Brazil, it wasnt long before enterprising botanists decided they would try planting them in other tropical regions, where they had no natural parasites.

The British began growing rubber in Sri Lanka, after a rubber trees seeds were famously smuggled out of Brazil. And by the beginning of the century, this produce was vastly outperforming Brazils rubber crop. The Amazon basin, heavily dependent on proceeds from rubber sales, was devastated.

Fresh off the failure of his Alabama development, Ford grew fascinated with the economically ravaged Amazon as a potential site for a reboot of his utopian aspirations. He had reportedly first become interested by the area after hearing ex-president Theodore Roosevelt, a personal friend, tell of his journey down the river. Increasing rubber prices gave a practical aspect to his dream.

In his utopian mind, Fords plan for growing rubber in the Amazon was (as one state department official later described it) a work of civilisation. He believed the values that had made his company a success would build character anywhere else on the planet. In 1928, he went as far as to announce: We are not going to South America to make money, but to help develop that wonderful and fertile land.

But the move also represented a certain disenchantment with his home country, and a desire to start from scratch in the blank slate of the Amazon jungle. The force of industrial capitalism [Ford] helped to unleash, writes Greg Grandin in his definitive history of Fordlandia, was undermining the world he hoped to restore.

Fordlandia
To attract workers to Fordlandia, Ford offered a range of services including an 18-hole golf course and dance hall. Photograph: The collections of Henry Ford

By 1927, the economic justification for Fords proposed incursion into Brazil had become less convincing. Britains stranglehold on global rubber began to diminish, and his advisers suggested he would be better off purchasing rubber from local suppliers in Brazil. But Ford soon sent two of his most trusted men to reach an agreement with Brazilian authorities.

The deal with the Brazilian state of Para was not exactly beneficial for Ford. He received rights to commercially operate a 5,625 sq mile tract of land on the Tapajs river, a tributary of the Amazon, for a total of $125,000. It was later revealed that Fords men had given him something of a raw deal; by law, he could have obtained that land for next to nothing.

Nevertheless, Ford now had all he needed to bring his ideals to life in the middle of the jungle. As Grandin notes: Ford had the right to run Fordlandia as a separate state.

Fords uphill battle

The site of Fordlandia had been chosen on top of a rise, to protect it from flooding. But this meant it was far enough inland that the cargo vessel chosen to haul construction materials could not pass through the rocky waters of the Tapajs until the rainy season. A crew assembled at the future site of the city in late 1928, angered by a rotting food supply, and revolted against its leadership.

Materials didnt arrive at Fordlandia until early 1929. Construction finally began under the command of the Norwegian-born Einar Oxholm, who oversaw the laying out of Fordlandias basic street grid.

The city was built with a separate neighbourhood, the Vila Americana, for the American staff who worked there. Grandin points out that this development was separated from the areas intended for Brazilian workers. It was offset a bit, similar to the relationship of suburbia to a city, he says. The Vila Americana had the best view of the city, and was the only section with running water; while the Brazilian workers made do with water supplied by wells.

Interior
Interior of a derelict rubber factory in the middle of the city. Photograph: Colin McPherson/Corbis via Getty Images

The city would come to feature modern hospitals, schools, generators and a sawmill. By the end of 1930, its landmark structure was complete: a water tower, utilitarian beacon of modernity for Fords civilising project.

But it still faced an uphill battle. Clearing the jungle was excruciating work, and despite Fords famously high wages, labour of the kind needed for the project was in short supply. Amazon wood, which Ford had initially hoped to sell at a profit until rubber could be produced in the territory, proved useless.

The local press, initially friendly, turned on Ford and his project. Meanwhile, Fords desire that the city remain alcohol-free proved all but impossible to enforce. Oxholm didnt last long as manager the city would go through several managers in its first two years.

Just when things appeared to be settling down in Fordlandia, violence broke out again on 20 December 1930. At the workers cafe, in which skilled workers were separated from manual labourers, an argument between supervisor Kaj Ostenfeld and Manuel Caetano, a brick mason working at the city, quickly escalated. Workers rallied behind Caetano, vandalising the city, destroying generators, manufacturing equipment, and even their own homes.

Fordlandias managerial staff managed to escape by ship; they were eventually able to subdue the violence, but only by appealing to Pan Am air magnate Juan Trippe to assist them by flying in Brazilian military personnel on one of his planes.

Museum
The drawing room in the museum thats housed in one of the former managers homes in Vila Americana. Photograph: Colin McPherson/Corbis via Getty Images

After this low point, Fordlandia faced a turning point. Ford finally found a successful manager in Archibald Johnston, who turned the city around after the riot: paving the roads, finishing much of the citys much needed housing, and beginning work on access roads to connect Fordlandia with the massive territory Ford had acquired inland from the river.

It was perhaps under Johnston that Fordlandia came closest to Fords original ideal. He succeeded in bringing many of the amenities typical of American towns into the heart of the Amazon basin. The centrepiece was an entertainment facility that screened Hollywood films and also held dances. Health and education facilities were also improved. Johnson saw to it that many of Fords behavioural edicts were put into place, including a strict diet (though the alcohol provision still remained hard to enforce), and an emphasis on gardening.

But one problem remained: Fordlandia was not producing any rubber. Jungle foliage continued to be cleared, but efforts to plant rubber trees yielded discouraging results. The few trees that took root were quickly beset by blight.

To combat this, Ford brought in expert botanist James R Weir, who infuriated Johnston by insisting on a number of extravagant planting methods, and then, in 1936, demanding the construction of a second plant within Fords territory, called Belterra. Weir unceremoniously departed from Fordlandia a year later, without informing any staff of his intention to never return.

Employee
By 1940, the plant employed 400 people. Photograph: The collections of Henry Ford

Despite having outlived their economic rationale, Fordlandia and Belterranonetheless persisted for nearly a decade. As Fords car manufacturing operation became increasingly involved in the second world war effort, his holding in Brazil filled with American military personnel.

By the time the war ended, Henry Ford was in poor health. Management of the company fell to his grandson Henry Ford II, who promptly cut into the companys ballooning costs by selling underperforming assets. Fordlandia was first on the chopping block.

Ford II sold it back to Brazil for a fraction of what his grandfather had originally paid. The moment news of the sale reached Fordlandia, its American residents headed home, leaving its Brazilian residents wondering what had hit them.

A quiet death

In contrast to the excitement generated around its creation, Fordlandias death was a quiet one. Equipment from the sawmill and generator was left to the elements and vandals over the years, rusting in the thick Amazon air. The iconic water tower still stands, though it no longer holds any water, and the Ford logo proudly painted on it has long since faded.

In the past decade, however, Fordlandia has enjoyed something of a renaissance. Part of that is cultural: its history has been revisited in news articles, documentaries and even in music Icelandic minimalist composer Johann Johannsson released an album in 2008 inspired by the city. After the population languished at under 100 for several decades, it has rebounded to about 3,000 people in recent years.

Today, most residents dont care very much about Fordlandias history, says Christiane von Schwind, producer of a short documentary about the city. If the population is rising, Im sure it has to do with economic reasons rather than the history or spirit of Fordlandia.

Yet there are those who still remember their time in Fordlandia. In a 2008 film about the city, former resident Charles Townsend returns to the town with members of his family. Seeing one of the schools, he runs ahead of the camera, eager to chat with some of the children.

Who here was born in Fordlandia? he asks the children in an easygoing Portuguese; they respond with cheers. I was born in Fordlandia too! he replies.

Those children dont have the good fortune of attending a modern school, the way Fordlandias first residents did. But in a way they are better off. Fordlandia was created as the brainchild of one of the worlds most ambitious industrialists, and it failed. Perhaps it will do better as just an average town.

Do you know of other lost cities throughout history? Share stories in the comments below and follow Guardian Cities on Twitter and Facebook to join the discussion

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Auto industry’s Trump fear: ‘Everyone dreadeds being subject of a tweet’

Auto executives and analysts are fretting about how Trump will use the bully pulpit of his office and his Twitter account to try and force radical change

I like the car Im in now. Its a Chevrolet Suburban. Made in the USA, Donald Trump told the Detroit News last year when the then presidential hopeful was asked to name his favorite car from his 100-plus vehicle fleet that includes a scissor-door Lamborghini Diablo and a 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.

For General Motors, Chevys owner, it was nice PR, the latest in a series of endorsements from the Trumps that reach back like a stretch limo to the Cadillac Trumps landlord father Fred used to pick up his rent checks. In the 1980s Donald Trump even worked on building a Trump-branded Cadillac, complete with VCR and paper shredder. The Trumps may be fans of the USs largest car manufacturer but GM, and the car industry in general, should have been paying more attention to the final sentence of his pre-election endorsement: Made in the USA.

Trump hit out at the car industry last week like a drive-by shooter, firing off a series of angry tweets about their outsourcing of US jobs. Those tweets will be the hottest topic this week as Detroits annual car jamboree, the North American International Auto Show, gets started. Its a chance for the industry to show off all its latest products and for its executives to address the media about the future. Trumps blimp-like shadow is overhanging the event as executives and analysts fret about how this overtly interventionist president will use the bully pulpit of his office, and his Twitter account, to try and force a radical change in the way they do business.

Pretty much everybody is dreading being the subject of a tweet. Getting hauled out into the court of public opinion with virtually no warning is not something anybody wants to get engaged with, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the industry, labor and economics group at the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research (CAR).

Inside
Inside Donald Trumps 1988 Cadillac: the best limo in the world had rosewood interiors and was equipped with a fax machine, TV, VCR, paper shredder and built-in safe. Photograph: Jules Annan / Barcroft Images

The auto industry matters to the US and to Trump. Six years after a recession that almost destroyed it, the US car industry has made a miraculous recovery. Last week it reported record sales for 2016. Auto manufacturers, suppliers and dealers employ over 1.5 million people and directly contribute to the creation of another 5.7m jobs, according to the CAR.

Trump won thanks in large part to states where the auto industry is strongest. The Republican candidate took Michigan, home to the auto show and still the industrys hub, from the Democrats for the first time since 1988 with a campaign that tore into companies that have sent those voters jobs abroad, especially to Mexico. Ford bore the brunt of Trumps attacks during the election. Last week it was GMs turn. Then Toyotas.

General Motors is sending Mexican-made model of Chevy Cruze to US car dealers-tax free across border. Make in USA or pay big border tax! the president elect warned via his favorite megaphone, Twitter.

Two days later, he was after Toyota. Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for US. NO WAY! Build plant in US or pay big border tax, he tweeted. Toyotas plans were old news but the tweet came on the same day that its president, Akio Toyoda, had told reporters he was keen to work with the president-elect.

Auto industry jobs across the US.

These were the latest in a series of attacks on major US employers, including Carrier, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, that have so far brought CEOs running, cap in hand, to Trump Tower to make up for their alleged corporate misdeeds. Shortly after the GM tweet, Ford announced it had canned plans to open a $1.6bn plant in Mexico and would add new jobs building electric and hybrid vehicles at a plant in Flat Rock, Michigan. Trump hailed the move: Thank you to Ford for scrapping a new plant in Mexico and creating 700 new jobs in the US. This is just the beginning much more to follow, he tweeted.

Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for Kelley Blue Book, said Trump was playing to his base and a lot of the voters who put him in office were industrial midwest, blue collar, union workers. All his tweets and pronouncements have been geared to addressing that audience, said Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for Kelley Blue Book.

Ford had already warned that the car industry was expecting a slowdown in sales, especially of smaller vehicles like the ones that would have been built in Mexico. So scrapping the plan makes economic as well as political sense for the company, but market watchers doubt the industry and Trumps agendas will remain compatible.

GM is expected to start laying off more than 3,000 factory workers in Michigan and Ohio, another state that voted for Trump, starting later this month. Will they defend that decision if Trump goes on the attack?

The car industry is truly international and China is its largest market. GM and its joint venture partners sold 3.87m vehicles in China in 2016, up 7.1% from the previous year. China accounts for a third of GMs sales. Like its corporate peers, GM has so far remained silent over Trumps anti-China rhetoric, but a trade war would be a disaster for the company.

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GM delivers first Chevrolet Bolts, sparking electric car price race

General Motors says first units handed over to customers in Fremont, California, where rival Tesla is scheduled to start producing budget Model 3 in 2017

General Motors has delivered its first Chevrolet Bolt electric cars to three customers in Fremont, California, home to rival electric automaker Teslas assembly plant.

This allows the Detroit automaker to claim first place in the race to deliver an electric car that can run for more than 200 miles on a charge and has a starting price below $40,000. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has promised its entry in this new segment, the Model 3, will go into production in July.

Some analysts expect the Model 3 will miss that target. The production plan calls for a substantial overhaul of Teslas Fremont assembly plant, which was once a General Motors factory.

Tesla has said the starting price will be $35,000 although it expects the average sales price to be about $42,000.

The Bolt, which GM developed with South Korean battery maker LG Chem, has a 238-mile driving range on a charge and a starting price of $37,495 before tax breaks.

Rival automakers, including Japans Nissan and Germanys Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW, have indicated they are developing similar electric vehicles with a driving range of about 200 miles.

GM has been cautiously ramping up Bolt production at its suburban Detroit factory. Suppliers and people familiar with the programme say the initial production pace indicates plans for 20,000 to 30,000 Bolts a year.

However company officials said the plant could build more. The Bolt is specifically designed to be a battery-electric vehicle and could form the basis of other electric vehicles, company officials have said.

By contrast Tesla has outlined ambitious plans to make as many as 500,000 Model 3s annually, more than five times its expected vehicle production for this year. The company has said it received more than 325,000 initial orders for the Model 3.

Tesla
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has set ambitious targets for building and selling the Model 3. Photograph: Justin Pritchard/AP

The Chevy Bolt and a similar model GM plans to offer in Europe are functional, small hatchbacks. Executives have said the Bolt is well suited for such ride-service companies as Lyft, in which GM owns a stake.

Executives have said GM eventually plans to offer self-driving Bolts.

Prototypes of the Model 3 displayed by Tesla suggest the car will be aimed at compact German luxury sedans such as the Audi A3 or A4, or the Mercedes-Benz CLA or C class.

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Elon Musk says he ‘feels good’ as Tesla forecasts first earnings

After several excruciating financial months that included $67m in unplanned costs, the electric car maker says it will start making money this year

Elon Musk, chief executive of electric luxury car maker Tesla Motors, promised investors on Wednesday that the company will start making money this year, sending its shares up sharply despite a wider fourth-quarter loss.

Tesla shares rose more than 10% in after-hours trading after the company forecast a 60-80% increase in vehicle sales this year, and promised it would turn a profit on an adjusted basis. It will start generating positive cash flow in March.

Tesla shares are still down more than 30% since the beginning of the year, reflecting investor concerns about continued losses.

Musk and the companys new chief financial officer, Jason Wheeler, sought to assure investors on a conference call on Wednesday evening that Tesla is determined to cut costs, hit production targets and stanch losses.

Cash is king, Wheeler said.

Musk said Tesla would make its first net profit by the fourth quarter. It plans to invest $1.5bn to add capacity, start production at a huge battery factory in Nevada and open more showrooms.

Teslas cash reserves dropped to $1.2bn as of 31 December from $1.9bn a year earlier, despite a sale of shares last summer. The companys cash burn has become a concern for some analysts, given the heavy capital spending it has mapped out. The slower-than-planned launch of the companys Model X sport utility vehicle during the last quarter added $67m in unplanned costs, Tesla said.

I feel very good about things right now, Musk said. The last several months have been quite excruciating.

Tesla straddles the digital technology and automotive industries, which have been hard hit this year by investors worried that growth is slowing in both sectors. General Motors earlier this month reported record profit, but its shares have fallen 18% this year.

Tesla shares rose despite a wider fourth-quarter net loss of $2.44 a share, compared with a loss of 86 cents a share a year earlier. Tesla reported an adjusted loss of 87 cents per share in the fourth quarter, while analysts expected a profit of 10 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Deliveries of Model S sedans and Model X SUVs were 17,478 vehicles in the quarter, at the low end of prior forecasts. Revenue rose nearly 27% to $1.21bn.

Tesla said it planned to deliver 80,000-90,000 Model S and Model X vehicles in 2016, ahead of Wall Streets average expectation for about 79,000 vehicles, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

Tesla said its long-promised moderately priced car, the Model 3, would be unveiled on March 31. That car will have a starting price of about $35,000 before government incentives and subsidies and will launch in 2017, Tesla has said.

By that time, GM has said it will already be selling its Chevrolet Bolt, at a similar price with a range of 200 miles (322 km) between charges. Musk brushed off a comparison with the Bolt. It doesnt seem like we are going to be demand-constrained, he said.

Meanwhile at an event in Melbourne, Australia, Tesla showed off a new function that allows its cars to steer autonomously along long stretches of road.

Tesla spokesman Heath Walker says the new technology enabled the model S vehicles to sense surrounding traffic and steer without drivers touching the wheel.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Tesla whistleblower claims company is ‘doing everything it can to stillnes me’

The electric carmaker is suing a former technician for alleged hacking, but he says hes being scapegoated for leaking concerns

On Wednesday morning, Martin Tripp was an out-of-work Tesla technician trying to figure out what to do next.

By the end of the day, he had been sued by his former employer for alleged hacking and theft, engaged in a hostile email exchange with Elon Musk, come out as a whistleblower, and was being patted down by sheriff’s deputies over accusations that he was threatening to go to his former workplace and “shoot the place up”.

” I’m a scapegoat because I provided information that is absolutely true ,” Tripp told the Guardian on Wednesday evening.” This is obscene … It feels like I have no rights as a whistleblower .”

On Thursday, after the local sheriff’s office had announced that there was no believable menace to the Gigafactory, Tripp commented further:” They’re trying to do everything they can to stillnes me and trying to set an example so that no one else will talk to the press .”

Tripp’s dispute with the electric car companyerupted into a high-stakes round of he-said/ Tesla-said when it filed a federal lawsuit against him on Wednesday.

The suit alleged that Tripp had” unlawfully hacked” Tesla’s manufacturing operating system( MOS)- writing code that would export confidential information to third parties and planting the code on three different computer systems such that other employees would be” falsely implicated as guilty parties “.

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Martin Tripp was sued by Tesla for hacking and theft. He says he’s actually a whistleblower. Photograph: Politenes of Martin Tripp

The complaint also accused Tripp of constructing” false claims to the media about the information he stole”, and specifically referenced claims about punctured battery cells, excess scrap material and manufacturing delays.

But Tripp, a former process technician at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada, told the Guardian that he leaked datum to a reporter at Business Insider because no one at the company was listening to his concerns.

” When it’s world impactful, when you’re lying to the world and investors about the cars you’re producing and how sustainable you are, when you’re saying one thing and doing another, the righteous thing is for the world to know ,” Tripp said by phone.

Tesla has rejected Tripp’s claim to be a whistleblower and challenged the accuracy of the information he provided to Business Insider.

In an email to the Guardian about Tripp’s whistleblower assert on Wednesday afternoon, Musk wrote that Tripp” sent me a threatening email” and that” we received a call at the Gigafactory that he was going to come back and shoot people “.

Tesla subsequently released a statement saying the company had” received a phone call from a friend of Mr Tripp” warns that Tripp was going to “shoot the place up”. The company alerted the police and increased security at the factory. Sheriff’s deputies fulfilled Tripp at his hotel and questioned him.

Tesla has said it would not provide further information while the Storey county sheriff’s office tells it is investigating” the threat’s origin “.

The lawsuit capped an already strange news cycle for Tesla and its chief executive, Elon Musk.

In an email to Tesla employees sent on Sunday evening, Musk wrote that he had just became aware that a Tesla employee had engaged in” quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations” which included” inducing direct code changes” to the MOS and transferring data to third parties.

Musk went on to say that the alleged saboteur could be an agent of one of the” long listing of organizations that want Tesla to die”, including short-sellers, the fossil fuel industry, and rival car manufacturers.

In a second email sent Monday, Musk referenced a small fire at the company’s Fremont factory and again appeared to stoke distrusts of sabotage, penning:” Could simply has become a random event, but as Andy Grove told,’ Merely the paranoid survive .'” The emails were first reported by CNBC.

Though Musk never named Tripp in his emails, the accusations of hacking the MOS are similar, and many news outlets identified Tripp as the” alleged saboteur” once the lawsuit was filed.

Tripp says that any suggestions that he was a saboteur are” flat out lies “.

” I’ve never gone to any outside company, any oil industry people ,” he added.” I care about the public and safety .”

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A Tesla at a charging phase in Beijing, China. Photo: Thomas Peter/ Reuters

A 40 -year-old US navy veteran, Tripp started working for Tesla in October 2017.” I left a really god task and condo in Milwaukee … because I believed I was going to do something good for the world, accelerating the world’s sustainability ,” he said, referencing Tesla’s corporate mission.

Tripp conceded that he had difficulty adjusting to Tesla’s workplace culture, but he denied a claim by Musk that he had acted out of anger over not receiving a promotion.

Instead, he told, he grew increasingly concerned about a range of issues that were eventually reported on by Business Insider, including high rates of” nonconforming material” that objective up being wasted and a batch of battery cells that were erroneously punctured.

” I maintained bringing this up to management, supervisors, anyone who would listen ,” Tripp said.” Everyone just said,’ Yeah, whatever .'”

Tripp acknowledged that he provided information from Tesla’s MOS to Business Insider, but said that there was no “hacking” involved; he claimed that he simply queried the database to offer verification of his claims to the reporter.

” I’m not that smart ,” Tripp told.” I don’t know how to code. I tried to teach myself to code and I don’t have the patience .”

Tripp also said he did not understand a claim by Tesla that he tried to implicate other employees by planting code on different computers- accusations he said were made to him during Tesla’s investigation.

The accusations came up again in the heated email exchange shared by both Musk and Tripp with the Guardian, after Tripp found out that he was being sued.

Tripp:” Don’t worry, you have what’s coming to you for the lies you have told to the public and investors .”

Musk:” Threatening me merely builds it worse for you”

Tripp:” I never made a threat. I simply told you that you have what’s coming. Thank you for this gift !!!!”

Musk:” You should ashamed of yourself for framing other people. You’re a horrible human being .”

Tripp:” I NEVER’ framed’ anyone else or even insinuated anyone else as to get involved in my production of documents of your MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF WASTE, Safety concerns, lying to investors/ the WORLD. Putting vehicles on the road with safety issues is being a horrible human being !”

Musk:” There are literally injuries[ sic] with Model 3. It is by far the safest automobile in the world for any midsize vehicle. And of course a company with billions of dollars in product is going to have millions of dollars in scrap. This is not news.

” However, betraying your word of honor, transgressing the deal you had when Tesla gave you a chore and framing your colleagues are wrong and some come with legal penalties. So it runs. Be well .”

Musk told the Guardian by email:” He initiated the email exchange this morning at 8.57 am. I surely would not have initiated contact , nor would I even know his personal email address, and it was probably unwise for me to have responded .”

Tripp said that he did not intend his email as a threat.” All I entail by’ you’re going to get what you have coming’ is that the truth is going to come out .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com