Non-U.S. Automakers Displeased After President Obama Snubs Them at Washington Auto ShowBy Ant On February 4, 2012 Under Cars
Naturally, they obliged. For example, Honda flew in the FCX Clarity from California, Kia brought the Optima hybrid and Mercedes-Benz a fuel-cell car. Carmakers also brought along their top brass to discuss green technologies with the President.
As Bloomberg reports, the problem is that Obama, who had half an hour in his disposal, ignored foreign manufacturers.
Instead, he spent most of his time with domestic brands, posing for the press with the Dodge Dart, the Chevrolet Malibu, the Ford C-MAX Energi, the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 and the Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 (not pretty fuel efficient those two, by the way…).
“When you look at all these cars, it is testimony to the outstanding work that’s been done by workers, American workers, American designers”, said Obama. “The U.S. auto industry is back. The fact that GM is back, number one, I think shows the kind of turnaround that’s possible when it comes to American manufacturing.”
The Association of Global Automakers’ CEO Michael Stanton said that representatives of non-U.S. manufacturers were displeased with the President’s action.
“Many of our members bent over backwards to meet the request from the White House”, said Stanton. “We were just terribly disappointed that the President refused to recognize the commitment that our members and others have made to the manufacturing base of the United States.”
Stanton added that members of the Washington-based Association, which includes Toyota, Honda and Kia, have made investments in excess of US$43 billion to the country and employ more than 80,000 workers.
Ironically, one day later, Honda announced its plans to invest US$100 million to its Ohio transmission plant, which is part of a total investment of half a billion in upgrading the factory in the last 18 months.
John O’Donnel, executive VP of the show organizers, said, “I don’t believe it was an intentional snub. I think he was checking up on the investment he made in the domestics”, referring to the 2009 GM-Chrysler bailout.
White House spokeswoman Sandra Abrevaya declined to comment.