Have you heard? GM is going to be the very first American auto mobile manufacturer to sell a vehicle in the US that is imported from China, that would be the Buick Envision.
Many would say that is not something to be proud of though.
In fact, there are plenty of articles that discuss the impending PR
nightmare that GM is marching towards. Looking at some of the circumstances one can understand why such opinions exist.
GM was bailed out by the American tax payers in 2008 during the financial crisis.
Many believe that the company owes an everlasting debt to the country now. It should go above and beyond to invest in the American worker, the American taxpayer, just like the government did for GM when it was in its time of need.
Furthermore, GM just finished signing a new labor agreement that had the effect of raising the company's labor costs in the US. Shortly after signing said agreement, GM announced that the Envision would be imported to the US from China.
Guess signing a new labor agreement that includes living wages doesn't work out so well if the company then just chooses to move production somewhere else where it's cheaper.
According to The Wall Street Journal, GM officials have said that this decision was made as a way to “fill a gap in the brand’s product line.” While this could be the case, their plan was made public only weeks after the union contract agreement. Whether this move was just bad timing or GM’s response to the new contract, there’s a big chance that this could bring bad PR
to the company in the near future.
I'm not convinced that this will be a big deal though. Auto journalists may spend some time discussing it, but the average car buyer doesn't really care where their car comes from, nor do they even care to enquire about where it is produced. Instead, they associate brands with America. "Ford? Must be American."
Furthermore, even factories in the US source parts from all over the world before the final assembly takes place.
For example, the Ford F-150 is assembled in Michigan and Missouri, but less than 75 % of the parts are actually sourced from the US. In actuality, the most American car you can buy right now
is the Toyota Camry, which is assembled in Georgetown, Ky.
The only way I think this will actually become an issue for GM is if Donald Trump decides to call them out on "shipping jobs overseas" publicly.
He has criticized Ford for similar practices during his campaign already.
Republican presidential candidate and billionaire Donald Trump threatened Ford Motor Co. with punitive taxes if the Dearborn automaker proceeds with a new $2.5 billion Mexican plant that will “take away thousands” of U.S. jobs.
I wouldn't put anything past the Trump, but unless he decides to bring particular attention to this issue, I just don't think the average car buyer will really take notice.