General Motors Co. announced a $1 billion US investment plan involving new models and plant updates long in the works, becoming the latest automaker to answer to pressure from President-elect Donald Trump to create jobs.
The nation’s top automaker will add or retain about 7,000 salaried and hourly workers, including almost 2,000 in domestic factories, spokesman Pat Morrissey said. Made days after Trump urged GM to follow Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV in detailing US spending plans, the announcement includes product updates, manufacturing changes, and a lending expansion that were all decided before the president-elect’s public appeals to invest.
Earlier Tuesday, Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. said they’ll increase US investment over the next five years and consider building a new plant in the country. Trump praised Ford and Fiat Chrysler last week for plans to spend on US factories after threatening for months to slap Mexico-built vehicles with a 35 percent import tax.
The president-elect is taking credit mostly for expenditures companies would’ve made anyway, according to Maryann Keller, an independent auto industry consultant.
“This is the normal course of business,” Keller, who’s based in Stamford, Conn., said of GM. “All they’re doing is announcing investments that they would have made anyway.”
Also on Tuesday, Bayer AG and Monsanto Co. promised Trump $8 billion of investment in the United States and thousands of new jobs should the companies’ planned merger, the biggest-ever in agriculture, clear regulatory approvals.
Bayer chief executive Werner Baumann promised to add 3,000 jobs at Monsanto while keeping its headquarters in St. Louis after the deal is completed, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday.
Both companies had previously announced their intention to keep the location of the Monsanto offices, but the commitment on jobs is new, and follows a visit last week by both Baumann and Monsanto chief executive Hugh Grant to Trump and his aides in New York.
US businesses are facing more pressure to show that they’re creating American jobs ahead of Friday’s scheduled inauguration of Trump, who made the issue a signature of his campaign. And carmakers are eager to cooperate with the incoming administration as they prepare to ask for favors including weaker fuel economy rules and lower corporate taxes.
Separately Walmart Stores said Tuesday it will create about 10,000 retail jobs.
“Thank you to General Motors and Walmart for starting the big jobs push back into the US!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Less than two minutes into his first formal press conference since the election on Wednesday, Trump highlighted Ford’s decision to cancel a $1.6 billion factory in Mexico and expand an existing plant in Michigan. Fiat Chrysler committed $1 billion toward making three new Jeeps in the United States and enabling a Michigan facility to manufacture a Ram pickup now produced in Mexico. He told reporters he hoped GM would follow.
“With all of the jobs I am bringing back into the US [even before taking office], with all of the new auto plants coming back into our country, and with the massive cost reductions I have negotiated on military purchases and more, I believe the people are seeing ‘big stuff,’ ” Trump wrote in a series of tweets Tuesday.
An analyst for Kelley Blue Book said the GM announcement is ‘‘mostly theater’’ to take advantage of the attention generated by Trump’s tweets.
Trump had targeted GM earlier this month for importing a small number of Chevrolet Cruze hatchback models from Mexico to the United States. The company has made separate recent announcements that it would permanently cut 3,300 jobs at three passenger-car plants and temporarily slow production at five factories in states including Michigan and Ohio, due to slack demand.
German and Japanese automakers also are in Trump’s crosshairs, with Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW AG drawing threats of tariffs on Mexico-made cars. BMW sees “no reason” to change plans, said Peter Schwarzenbauer, who heads the automaker’s Mini and Rolls-Royce brands and its car-sharing business.