Why does Chevy have a bad rap

The US President is actually right on this point: there are really almost no Chevrolets here. "How many Chevrolets do you see in Germany?" Asked Donald Trump over a year ago. "Not too many, maybe none at all, you can't see anything over there, it's a one-way street." The global car market as a one-way street - this is how it looks for Trump.

In contrast to the USA, where - at least the President claims - there should be "a Mercedes in front of every house" in some streets. Fifth Avenue in New York? Full of German limousines. And that's why he's now threatening German carmakers with higher tariffs. The fact is: The EU currently estimates a ten percent tariff on US cars from the USA; the US, on the other hand, is only 2.5 percent more for EU cars - a result of the so-called Uruguay World Trade Round of 1994. For other goods, it is often the other way around.

If it were only about tariffs, as Trump claims, the matter would be clear. But it's about more: about the cars themselves. Premium cars made in Germany have always had a good reputation in the USA. They are considered chic, modern, powerful, sporty. American cars on the other hand in Germany? Oh well.

The auto republic is anything but lucrative for American manufacturers. According to the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA), a total of 1026 Chevrolets were registered in Germany last year. This could also be due to the fact that the Americans first tried to tear off the market with a cheap strategy. When even that didn't work properly, the Chevrolet parent company General Motors decided in 2013 not to even offer Chevrolets in order not to compete with the former subsidiary Opel (taken over by the French car company PSA Peugeot Citro├źn in 2017). That didn't change much: Chevrolet was made even smaller, but it didn't make Opel much bigger either.

However, only 496 vehicles of the US brand Cadillac were registered in Germany in 2017, which in turn shows that selling American cars in this country is nothing more than a homeopathic exercise. On the other hand, it is not true that every American drives a car from Stuttgart, Munich or Ingolstadt. But at least there were around 1.35 million Americans who bought a car from Mercedes, BMW or the VW group (VW, Audi, Porsche) last year. Cars that did not necessarily come from Germany, however: 800,000 of these vehicles came from factories in Alabama (Daimler), South Carolina (BMW) and Tennessee (VW).

German cars, built by Americans in the USA, are one of the country's great export hits - and that shows that it is not that easy with the punitive tariffs that Trump brought into play against German car manufacturers. Who should be subject to punitive tariffs here? And who will be punished for what? Critics say: If the US government now takes action against German car manufacturers, it will above all harm American workers who work for these companies.