"You would need a magic wand to bring back manufacturing jobs," said President Donald Trump on November 12th,
quoting someone from a past administration. "Well, we brought them back."
The world's carmakers could be forgiven for wishing he had not bothered.
They have been thwacked with tariffs on steel, aluminium and components from China,
and threatened with broader levies on cars and car parts in the name of national security.
A tariff deadline was looming as The Economist went to press.
And they have new rules of the road, in the form of the USMCA, a trade deal with Mexico and Canada.
there is little sign so far that foreign carmakers are leading an American investment boom.
According to Kristin Dziczek of the Centre for Automotive Research, their investments in American facilities have been fairly steady since the recession.
Meanwhile the value of American imports of passenger vehicles and light trucks continues to grow,
by 6% in the first three quarters of 2019 compared with a year earlier.
Though European car executives were hauled in for a meeting with Mr Trump last December to discuss their American production plans,
the value of imported vehicles from the European Union rose over the same period by 2%.
The trade data may be distorted by stockpiling: in its third-quarter earnings call Volkswagen, a big European carmaker,
mentioned this as a defence against threatened tariffs. And Ms Dziczek cautions that trade policies are just one of many considerations
when companies are deciding where to locate new plants. American demand for cars is sagging,
and production is shifting from saloon cars to other larger vehicles such as SUVS, as well as electric cars.
Behind the scenes, however, car companies are planning to rework their supply chains to meet the USMCA's stricter content requirements.
Ann Wilson of the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers' Association, an industry group,
says members are drawing up plans to manufacture more in America.
"You will see structural changes," says Dietmar Ostermann, who works with car companies at PWC, an accountancy.