As if Toyota wasn’t in enough trouble already, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has threatened to expel the automaker unless it produces an all-terrain model of 4×4 vehicles for public transport in poor an rural areas. In a speech made late Wednesday, Chavez also said that he would not hesitate to expel and expropriate plants from U.S. and Asian automakers in Venezuela if they do not share their technology with the country.
“What’s this that Toyota doesn’t want to make the ‘rustic’ model here?” Chavez said. “We must force them. And if they don’t, then they should leave and we’ll bring another company in … The Chinese want to come and they make ‘rustic’ models.”
Chavez said he wants Toyota to produce all-terrain 4×4 models for the under-privileged areas where there is a lack of decent roads. He has ordered Trade Minister Eduardo Saman to carry out a “severe inspection” of Toyota.
“You tell the people at Toyota that they have to produce this model and we are going to impose a quota, and if they don’t meet it, we will punish them,” he told Saman.
According to spokesman Yuta Kaga, Toyota has asked the Japanese government to verify Chavez’s intentions since he has not directly contacted the company on the issue.
– By: Stephen Calogera