Trump Metal Tariffs to Make Cars Costlier, Automakers Say

(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from the European Union, Canada and Mexico will make cars more expensive, threaten jobs and slow the adoption of technologies that keep consumers safe and save fuel, automakers’ U.S. trade groups said.

“These tariffs will result in an increase in the price of domestically produced steel -- threatening the industry’s global competitiveness and raising vehicle costs for our customers,” said Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers, which includes General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG. “Keeping vehicles affordable means higher sales, more auto sector jobs, and faster fleet turnover -- translating into fuel economy gains and safety improvements.”

Global Automakers, which represents international automakers including South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. and Japan’s Honda Motor Co., called President Donald Trump’s decision disappointing and counterproductive.

“A tariff is a tax and this action will raise prices and hurt American auto producers and their customers,” John Bozzella, the president of Global Automakers, said in an emailed statement. “Any retaliation by our trading partners will multiply this harm and do nothing to encourage U.S. exports.”

While automakers purchase most of their steel and aluminum for U.S. plants from domestic producers, the alliance said the tariffs will drive up prices of metals whether they’re made in America or imported. GM and Ford Motor Co. both have said costlier raw materials will be significant profit headwinds this year.

Thursday’s tariff announcement marks the Trump administration’s most aggressive trade action yet against the U.S.’s closest allies, which had been seeking a permanent exemption.

“We encourage a careful re-evaluation of these tariffs so they address legitimate concerns while not harming the users of these critical materials,” Bergquist said in an email.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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