STAYING IN MEXICO: Volkswagen brand CEO Herbert Diess said the firm had no plans to stop building cars in Mexico. Image: AFP / Tony Karumba
Detroit - The head of the Volkswagen brand of cars said Sunday his company would continue to manufacture in Mexico and pledged to produce electrified vehicles in the United States.
Herbert Diess, who took over Volkswagen AG's namesake brand in 2015, also said the company would produce electrified vehicles in the United States.
The remarks come as President-elect Donald Trump in recent weeks has threatened automakers with import tariffs if they sell foreign-made cars on the US market. Trump has so far targeted Toyota, Ford and General Motors.
VW will build EVs in the US
Diess said Volkswagen would keep its production facility in Puebla, Mexico, where it produces the Jetta and the Golf MK7.
"Mr Trump I think wouldn't want us to produce cars and only export to Mexico. Mexico is for us a very big market as well," Diess told reporters at the unveiling of new SUV models designed for the US market. The Detroit auto show kicks off Monday.
He also said Volkswagen had not reached out to the president-elect's transition team.
Diess stressed that the German automaker, which is struggling to put a global emissions cheating scandal behind it, has a significant presence in the United States and will build electric vehicles here.
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"I think we are well positioned in America. We strongly invested in Chattanooga. We have one of the most modern plants here," he said.
"We are really becoming an American car company now."
The company should decide in early 2018 where in the United States to manufacture Volkswagen electric vehicles, according to Diess, who said his company was not afraid of being strong-armed by Trump.
Volkswagen sold 322 948 vehicles in the United States, a decrease of 7.6% over 2015.
Below are the main manufacturers present in Mexico:
-- General Motors: Silao, San Luis Potosi, Ramos Arizpre
Cars produced: Chevrolet Captiva, Sonic, Cruze hatchback, Aveo.
-- Fiat Chrysler: Toluca, Ramos Arizpre, Saltillo
Cars produced: Ram, Ram 2500, Ram 3500, Ram 4500, Ram 5000, Ram Promaster, Dodge Journey, Fiat Fremont, Fiat 500 and Jeep Compass.
-- Ford: Hermosillo, Chittuaha, Cuautitlan
Cars produced: Ford Fiesta, Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ.
-- Volkswagen: Puebla
Cars produced: Jetta, Beetle, Golf MK7, VW Golf, Jetta MK4
-- Toyota: Tijuana
Car produced: Toyota Tacoma
-- Nissan: Morelos, Aguascalientes
Cars produced: Tsuru, March, Sentra, Versa, Tiida
-- Mazda: Salamanca
Car produced: Mazda 3/Axela
-- Honda: Celaya, El Sato
Cars prodiced: Honda CR-V, Honda Fit, Honda HR-V
-- Audi: Puebla
Car produced: Q5
-- Kia/Hyundai: Monterrey
Cars produced: Kia Forte/Cerato, Rio
2017: Infiniti in Aguascalientes
2018: Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) in Aguascalientes
2019: BMW in San Luis Potosi