Foreign carmakers target Trump with ad

NEW YORK • When he switches on his television set in the morning, United States President Donald Trump could see a new side of the foreign carmakers he has lashed out against.

Toyota, Volkswagen and other foreign carmakers are joining forces for a commercial touting their America-made vehicles.

The spot, with images from the US factories of those overseas companies, will run for several weeks on shows such as MSNBC's Morning Joe and Fox News' Fox And Friends.

Mr Trump is known as a voracious consumer of cable news and has reacted on Twitter to both of those shows.

"We think that it's really important that policymakers understand what the auto industry looks like today," said Mr John Bozzella, chief executive of the Association of Global Automakers, a Washington-based trade group that represents most of the automakers behind the campaign.

The President has been a warm host to Detroit's carmakers and pledged to cut burdensome regulations, which he noted have stifled their growth.

However, he has sounded the horn at foreign carmakers.

He railed against a planned Toyota factory in Mexico. 

And in a meeting with European Union leaders last month, he said Germany was "very bad" for flooding the US with cars.

Germany posted a record trade surplus last year and cars were indeed a big reason.

The campaign seeks to bring some attention to the hefty US presence of foreign carmakers, which manufacture nearly half of all vehicles produced in America and have invested some US$75 billion (S$104 billion) in the country to date, Mr Bozzella said.

The advertisement itself is a remake of Prouder, Stronger, Better, a 1984 commercial for the late Mr Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign that posited it was "morning again in America".

The carmakers borrowed the political advertisement's optimistic tone, imagery and even the melody from its soundtrack.

"It's morning again for auto manufacturing in America, and thanks to trade and open markets, our auto industry is stronger, prouder and better than ever before," a narrator voices over images of a Honda assembly line and workers raising an American flag.

"Why would we ever want to return to a time of less competition and less choice for consumers?"

US vehicles, plants and workers of Hyundai, Kia and Nissan also appear in the advertisement.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2017, with the headline 'Foreign carmakers target Trump with ad'. Print Edition | Subscribe