Toyota Worries Trump's Tariffs Could Hurt Car Sales

(Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. executives still fret that President Donald Trump’s proposed auto tariffs could come to pass and cut U.S. auto sales by about 2 million cars a year.

Jim Lentz, chief executive officer of Toyota Motor North America, told the Detroit Economic Club Wednesday that Trump’s proposed use of section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act to put 25 percent tariffs on foreign cars would jack up car prices and undercut sales. The move would especially hurt foreign carmakers like Toyota, he said.

Trump already cut a deal with Mexico and Canada that essentially keeps the framework of the North American Free Trade Agreement in place. But Toyota still worries about tariffs because the company gets 71 percent of its U.S. sales from cars made in North America and the rest from elsewhere. About a quarter of the parts on its U.S.-made cars are imported.

“I have to be hopeful,” Lentz said. “I think the president will do what’s best for the economy. I don’t think a 232 tariff on cars is in the best interest of the economy.”

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