The preservation of jobs, the relocation of industries, the renegotiation of international treaties, all against the backdrop of a great protectionist turn with a strong populist tone, allowed the Trump candidate to win in 2016, especially in key highly industrialized states such as those of the United States. Michigan or Ohio. Four years later, will Trump II be able to serve the same recipe again without firing a shot? The point in three questions.
Donald Trump made the preservation of jobs in the industry a major campaigning argument in 2016, which earned him critical support in key states like Michigan and Ohio.
He then said he wanted to overhaul international trade treaties and force the three major automobile manufacturers of Detroit, General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler (FCA), to bring back to the United States jobs transferred to factories in Mexico.
1) Has the automotive industry created jobs?
The number of jobs in the sector increased by 4.6% between Donald Trump's nomination for the White House in January 2017 and the end of 2019, to reach around 1 million.
But with the pandemic and its consequences on factories and car purchases, it fell to 919,500 jobs in September according to the latest estimates from the Department of Labor, which represents a drop of 3.7% compared to taking office Of the president.
The results are mixed among the "Big 3" of Detroit.
General Motors has cut around 20,000 jobs since January 2017, when Fiat Chrysler US added 3,000, according to the latest figures provided by the companies.
The number of positions at Ford has remained about the same, a spokesperson told AFP.
2) Have car manufacturers repatriated their production?
Shortly before Trump came to power, Ford abandoned the idea of building a factory in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, where the new Ford Focus was to be manufactured. The group then said that the $ 1.6 billion from the project would be spent on a factory in Michigan.
A year later, Fiat Chrysler announced the transfer of production of Ram Heavy Duty pickups from Saltillo, Mexico to Warren, Michigan. Donald Trump greeted this decision with a tweet stating, erroneously: the company "leaves Mexico and returns to the USA". "We are on the right path".
But in February 2019, Fiat Chrysler changes its mind: the Warren plant will be transformed for other vehicles and the production of pick-ups will remain in Mexico.
Like GM and Ford, Fiat Chrysler continues to manufacture cars in Mexico where it has eleven factories.
For Kristin Dziczek of the Auto Research Center in Michigan, there is no evidence that production has been repatriated.
We do not yet know how the new free trade treaty between the United States, Mexico and Canada, which entered into force on July 1, "will influence investment decisions," notes Ms. Dziczek.
3) What did the builders do in the United States?
Since Trump came to power, they have both cut jobs and invested in factories.
GM said in November 2018 that it plans to cut its workforce by 15% and close five factories in North America, including Maryland, Michigan and Ohio.
After a long strike by the UAW automobile union, the group backed down for a factory in Detroit and announced in early 2020 that it would invest $ 2.2 billion there, which should save 2,200 jobs. He also said Tuesday that he was going to invest more than 2 billion to convert a factory in Tennessee (southern United States) into a site also manufacturing electric vehicles.
Fiat Chrysler announced in February 2019 that it would invest $ 4.5 billion in five Michigan factories and build a factory in Detroit dedicated to new Jeeps, including hybrid models.
Ford also announced new investments in February 2019 including $ 1.5 billion to renovate two factories in Michigan. The group also announced in September its intention to cut 1,400 jobs through voluntary departures.
Before the pandemic, the American auto industry was doing well, without being in spectacular shape, says Ms. Dziczek.
"It's a bit of the status quo on a lot of things (...). The level of employment has remained practically the same."