This coming week, I'll be driving to Detroit to cover the North American International Auto Show.I did the same thing last year, and once again my route will take me through Lordstown, Ohio — right past the factory where General Motors' Chevy division builds the Cruze, a compact sedan that's among the most successful vehicle GM has ever sold.You can't miss the Cruze pride at Lordstown: There's a gigantic banner of the car on the side of the factory.
Since 2010, nearly every Cruze sold in the US or Canada — that's well over a million cars since 2010 — has rolled off the Lordstown assembly line.With sales that could cross 4 million globally in the next year or so, the Cruze is an amazing story for GM, a carmaker that had effectively abandoned the small-car market in the US before the financial crisis.President-elect Donald Trump has made the Cruze and GM his latest Twitter target, threatening GM with a border tax because the automaker thought it might be a good idea to bring a few Mexican-made hatchback versions of the Cruze into the US to see if adding a trim level in the second half of 2016 would enhance the Cruze story and give dealers a vehicle with more SUV-like functionality in a booming SUV market.Trump has no understanding of the modern, global auto industry, and yet he isn't afraid to take to Twitter to show off his ignorance.
The fact is that the Cruze is built on a global manufacturing platform and sold worldwide in numerous markets under GM's different regional brands.Interestingly, the auto industry doesn't seem to care what Trump tweets — it quickly figured out that he's using Twitter to bolster his Save American Manufacturing Jobs pledge.
Eventually, the markets will also figure this out and stop knocking a percentage point or two off automakers' stock prices every time Trump turns to 140-character brinkmanship.US car companies build cars all over the place, and at time they bring cars into markets from outside those markets.
The car I'll be driving to Detroit is a Buick made in China.GM didn't immediately respond to my request for comment, but in a statement to CNBC the auto giant said that they imported and sold only a tiny number of Cruze hatches from Mexico.
All Chevrolet Cruze sedans sold in the U.S. are built by GM's assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.