President Donald Trump is once again making waves in the auto industry, this time chastising German automakers for selling too many vehicles in the U.S. market. According to German publication Der Spiegel, the president reportedly had some strong words about the subject in a closed-door meeting with European Union officials.
“The Germans are bad, very bad. See the millions of cars they are selling to the US. Terrible. We will stop this,” Donald Trump said, according to German news magazine Der Spiegel as reported by Automotive News Europe.
Trump officials were quick to respond by saying the comments were not directed at Germany as a whole, but the imbalance in trade. Reuters reports that the country’s trade surplus with the U.S. rose to approximately $15.7 billion through the first quarter of 2017, but it’s unclear if that reflects just cars, or other German imports.
Similar waves were made back in January when Trump threatened German automakers with a 35 percent tax on every car imported to the United States. Presumably that wouldn’t apply to German cars built in the United States, such as BMW’s Spartanburg plant which manufacturers the X3, X4, X5, and X6. Having built over 400,000 vehicles in 2016 that were sent to 140 countries, BMW says the U.S. plant has the highest volume of all its facilities in the world.
President Trump has offered no plans or details on how such a targeted initiative would work, nor has there been any mention of targeting Asian manufacturers in the same fashion. Being that Germany is part of the European Union, it would be extremely difficult to implement action against a single country without affecting the rest.
That could ultimately be something of an embarrassing dilemma for Trump, who despite his anti-German rhetoric is reported to have quite a fleet of foreign autos, and a particular penchant for Mercedes-Benz.