News Column

Ford, Honda, Toyota Officials to Address House Subcommittee

March 5, 2013

Todd Spangler

A congressional subcommittee on Wednesday will hold a hearing on the state of auto manufacturing in the U.S., including how best to maintain American competitiveness with the rest of the world and the extent to which regulations should be eased on automakers.

The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade -- part of the Energy and Commerce Committee -- is set to hold the hearing on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Witnesses include officials from Ford, Honda and Toyota as well as auto supplier Johnson Controls.

In his prepared testimony, Joseph Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, was set to call for lowering the corporate tax rate, a more efficient and coordinated regulatory structure and a push to open markets to trade worldwide.

"Government policies must evolve in today's environment to ensure that American businesses and workers are not disadvantaged in the global market," Hinrichs' testimony said. "United States policy makers must work together to support manufacturing by shaping a climate for economic growth, regulatory certainty, and a strong foundation for U.S. exports."

Other witnesses expected were William C. Jackson, president automotive electronics and interiors for Johnson Controls; James Wehrman, senior vice president for Honda of America, and Chris Nielsen, president Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas.

In his prepared testimony, Jackson called for "consistent and predictable government policy," as well as regulations that recognize technological advancedment. He also called for research and development support to continue to "spur innovation in the auto manufacturing sector."

Officials also called for better workforce training to meet the needs of more technologically advanced manufacturing plants.

The subcommittee prepared a background memo on the hearing noting the employment gains in auto manufacturing in recent years, from 690,000 in January 2010 to 789,000 now. While Ford and GM have expanded plants or boosted shifts, the memo said Honda has announced $500-million in investment at Ohio facilities, Hyundai-Kia opened a plant in Georgia in 2009 and Volkswagen expanded capacity at its Chattanooga plant.

"Although most manufacturers invest in U.S. facilities under a strategy of "building where they sell, increasingly the U.S. is the beneficiary of foreign direct investment (FDI) to build cars here for export," the memo said.

For more coverage on the automotive industry, please see HispanicBusiness' Auto Channel

Source: (c)2013 the Detroit Free Press Distributed by MCT Information Services

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