But that argument all but evaporated Monday when the company announced that as part of its plan to save US$6 billion by the year 2020, it was also shutting down production at four other USA plants - several of them deep in Rust Belt states that helped elevate Trump to the presidency in 2016.
A similar tariff on auto imports would mean "many more cars would be built here" and "GM would not be closing their plants in Ohio, Michigan & Maryland", he tweeted.
Rather, the cuts are entirely about General Motors preparing for what industry experts agree will be a hard and challenging future for old-school automakers, and doing so at a time when its balance sheet is relatively healthy and the company has room to manoeuvre, he said.
US auto sales are down 0.2 percent through October largely because of a 13 percent plunge in vehicle sales.
"The goal of Treasury's investment in GM was never to make a profit, but to help save the American auto industry, and by any measure that effort was successful", Treasury Department spokesman Adam Hodge said at the time. GM will stop production at the Lordstown, Ohio, and Hamtramck, Mich., assembly plants.
"They underscored their concerns for the workers, for the communities and for the families that are affected by this decision", a senior Canadian official told reporters.
In this November 26, 2018, photo, President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Biloxi, Miss.
US President Donald Trump renewed his attacks on GM Thursday morning, sending a tweet in which he described the firm as "very counter to what other auto ... companies are doing".
But it was unclear what precisely Trump was referring to when he told Congress to "get smart" or when he said "The President has great power on this issue". "We've done this to help you and I think his disappointment is, it seems like they kind of turned their back on him".
There are many anonymous Twitter accounts that post inaccurate information in support of Trump, but "The_Trump_Train" made quite an impact within the White House on Wednesday. "You better get back in there soon - that's OH".
It was the latest angry outburst from Trump who has frequently attacked United States companies that fail to fall in line behind his promises to protect U.S. jobs.
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And on Tuesday, Trump threatened to cut government subsidies to the auto giant, which was saved by a taxpayer bailout in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown.
GM, Tesla Inc. and Nissan Motor Co. formed a coalition earlier this month to lobby to have the purchase subsidy extended. "Under my administration, we've created 600,000 brand-new manufacturing jobs that people said could never come back to our country".
His comments on Wednesday mark the third straight day that Trump has responded to GM's announcement with a series of policy-related attacks.
GM on Monday announced it would cut six gas-powered auto models as part of a plan to close factories and cut costs so it can spend more on electric- and autonomous-vehicle development.
The decision drew sharp criticism from the United States and Canadian labor unions representing GM workers.
But those expansions aren't enough to accommodate all of the roughly 3,300 US factory workers who could lose their jobs.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown wants Congress to move on his "American Cars, American Jobs Act" which would end tax cuts for companies that move overseas and put that revenue into incentives for customers to buy American-made cars.
The United Auto Workers union said it would challenge the move through "every legal, contractual and collective bargaining avenue open to our membership", and politicians on both sides of the aisle also slammed the layoffs.
The plant is a focal point in the potential closings because of the president's pledge at a rally previous year in nearby Youngstown, where he talked about going past big factories whose jobs "have left OH". "And GM would not be closing their plants in Ohio, Michigan & Maryland". A number of different models have been manufactured at the plant, including the Chevy Caviler, Pontiac Sunfire and the current Chevy Cruze.
BMW builds more cars in its U.S. factory than it sells in the United States.
The reductions could amount to as much as 8 per cent of GM's global workforce of 180,000 employees.