A person walks past the GM logo at the General Motors Technical Centre. Picture: AFP
A person walks past the GM logo at the General Motors Technical Centre. Picture: AFP

Southfield — Just as President Donald Trump is threatening tariffs on imported cars in a play to bring jobs to the US, General Motors plans to resurrect the iconic Chevrolet Blazer name, this time as a sleeker sport utility vehicle — made in Mexico.

The new mid-size Blazer will go on sale early next year, reviving a model that went away in 1994 when the boxy, truck-like SUV was renamed the Tahoe.

The Detroit car maker said the car-based utility would be assembled at the company’s plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.

GM chose to make the Blazer in Mexico because the company was planning the vehicle years ago when all of its SUV plants were running on three shifts, said spokeswoman Katie Amann.

The Ramos Arizpe plant was the only assembly plant with enough capacity for the Blazer, she said.

The move could be contentious since Trump has been pressuring car makers to create more jobs in the US. He has threatened to tear up Nafta and has said he’s prepared to slap a 25% tariff on all imported vehicles in order to bring back jobs lost to Mexico and elsewhere.

GM’s decision was sharply criticised by the United Auto Workers, which supported Trump’s investigation of vehicle imports.

"This news that the iconic Blazer nameplate will be built in Mexico is disappointing to UAW families and communities across this country," said Terry Dittes, vice-president of the union’s GM department. "This is all happening while UAW-GM workers here in the US are laid off and unemployed."

Trump has appealed to working-class voters in part by bemoaning the loss of factory work in the US and blaming unfair trade with other countries.

"After many decades of losing your jobs to other countries, you have waited long enough!" Trump wrote on Twitter in May, referring to his threat to tax imported cars at 25%.

The president directed the Commerce Department to investigate whether imported cars pose a national security threat, which could enable him to levy large tariffs. Trump also told top automotive industry executives last month in a White House meeting that he wants them to build more vehicles in the US.

The Blazer will probably find eager buyers, said Jeremy Acevedo, manager of industry analysis at Edmunds, an automotive research website.

"Car buyers love the return of a familiar name, and Chevrolet is picking an ideal time to bring back the Blazer," Acevedo said. "A four-door Blazer is square in line with what shoppers want and what Chevy was missing from its lineup."