GOP Senate Candidate Bernie Moreno Halted Sales of China-Made Cars as GM Closed Ohio, Michigan Plants

Senator JD Vance, a Republican from Ohio, left, and Bernie Moreno, US Republican Senate ca
Dustin Franz/Bloomberg

Republican Senate candidate Bernie Moreno, known for his car dealerships across Ohio, stopped selling vehicles made in China by General Motors (GM) after the automaker decided to shutter plants in the Rust Belt while expanding production overseas.

In late 2018, GM CEO Mary Barra announced the closure of two plants in Detroit, Michigan, as well as Lordstown Assembly in Lordstown, Ohio — moves that led to the layoffs of thousands of American auto workers in the region and thousands more in supporting industries.

The following year, Moreno said he took a stand against Barra’s mass layoffs. Amid dozens of other dealerships in the state, Moreno owned a Buick GMC dealership in Beachwood, Ohio, that had been selling the China-made Buick Envision.

Moreno’s dealership, since 2014, had sold the Buick Envision. After hearing of GM’s layoffs in the United States while expanding production overseas, Moreno said he stopped all sales of the Envision and wrote a letter to GM executives telling them not to send any more of the crossover SUVs to his dealership.

“I owned a Buick dealership and all of you who buy Buicks probably think you buy Buicks because you want an American-made car. Those are the people I met in my showroom,” Moreno said at a candidate forum in 2021, Spectrum News reports:

When Buick closed the factory in Michigan to open a factory in China and ship those cars to the U.S., I sent a letter to General Motors – don’t ship me one, that car will not be on my lot. General Motors sent me not a very nice letter back. All kinds of threats. You’ll never be another GM dealer again, you’ll never do this – and I stood my ground and did not sell that car. [Emphasis added]

Emails from April 2019 confirm that Moreno had instructed sales managers that the Beachwood Buick GMC dealership no longer sold the China-made vehicle.

“We don’t sell the Envisions,” Moreno wrote in an email published in Spectrum News. A spokeswoman for Moreno’s senate campaign also acknowledged that while the dealership once sold the Envision, all sales were halted in 2019 amid GM’s mass layoffs in Ohio and Michigan.

Likewise, a former general manager from the Beachwood dealership told Spectrum News in a statement that “following the closure of the General Motors Lordstown Plant in March 2019, which could have been used to move manufacturing of vehicles out of China back to the U.S., Bernie directed the dealership to stop selling [Envisions] immediately.”

Using recent statements from Moreno, though, Spectrum News suggested that the Senate candidate had previously claimed he never sold the Envision at his dealership — a suggestion refuted by his campaign.

United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 1112 employees and supporters, from the now closed General Motors Co. Lordstown assembly plant protest on July 16, 2019. (Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In February, for example, Moreno told a local radio host: “The Buick Envision was made in China, I told General Motors I wouldn’t sell one of them, don’t even ship it to me,” referring to the letter he said he wrote to GM executives telling them to stop sending him the vehicles.

The misleading claim from Spectrum News is being used as a campaign pitch from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Moreno’s opponent in this year’s highly contested Senate race. Importantly, Moreno has received former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, vital to making a populist pitch to the state’s auto workers.

In a video message on Thursday, Brown said he supports “a complete ban on Chinese electric vehicles in America.”

“I’m calling for a total ban on Chinese electric vehicles,” Brown says in the video posted to Twitter, “… all I want is those cars to be made in America by American workers.”

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter here


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.