By on May 17, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump pushed the threat of tariffs on imported vehicles to the background on Friday, announcing a 180-day pause as the country negotiates trade agreements with Japan and the European Union.

The delay comes a day ahead of a Saturday deadline imposed by the Commerce Department. In February, the department delivered the findings of an investigation on whether auto imports represent a national security threat to the United States. The report, not seen by the public, issued recommendations to the White House. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2019

Even though the United States plans to impose heftier trade duties on China tomorrow, and vice versa, automakers remain confident that the White House will decide to delay the hiking of other automotive tariffs on national security grounds.

The Commerce Department submitted its Section 232 national security report in February, leaving President Trump until May 18 to act. But manufacturers believe the preferred move will be to postpone the final decision another six months.  (Read More…)

By on November 14, 2018

The Trump administration was supposed to make an announcement Tuesday as to whether or not imported automobiles pose a national security risk, following discussions with trade representatives. While it wasn’t presumed that the White House would say anything truly definitive or hold a formal press conference on the issue, it was assumed that the president would take a stronger public stance either for or against an earlier proposal to raise foreign auto import tariffs to 25 percent. And it has, in a way.

According to those familiar with the matter, the White House decided to postpone any major decisions after discussing a draft Commerce Department report on the impact of auto imports with trade reps. However, the administration doesn’t have forever to make up its mind. Nor does its trading partners, which could be the point.  (Read More…)

By on July 19, 2018

Image: 'master blaster'

As the United States considers imposing new tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported automobiles and parts, the industry has rallied together to stand against the proposal. Manufacturers already made individual cases for themselves and are now dropping very bleak-sounding industry projections on the U.S. Commerce Department in the hopes of changing the administration’s mind.

However, President Donald Trump continues to promote the imposition of tariffs to force a sort of economic justice. For years, China’s protectionist policies regarding automobiles forced American manufacturers to build inside its borders and partner with Chinese firms for years. That’s something Trump claims could be a national security risk. China also recently upped its tax on American-made autos to 40 percent, shortly after promising to lower them. Meanwhile, Europe still holds a consistently higher tariffs on imported cars than the U.S., except for light trucks.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross seems aware that China may have gamed the system in its favor, but appears less convinced that it’s a matter of national security. On Thursday, during a hearing on the probe into the industry, he said it was “too early” to say what the United States would do. Meanwhile, auto groups continue to make their terrifying case. (There’s also quite a bit of rolling PR in downtown D.C. today, as you’ll see below.) (Read More…)

By on July 14, 2018

Ram HD production Saltillo assembly, Image: FCA

The U.S. Commerce Department wants automakers to whisper in its ear. And by whisper, we mean fill out a 34-page questionnaire detailing all their secrets — the nitty gritty of product planning, suppliers, and finances not already disclosed in public filings — under threat of financial penalty or imprisonment.

As one would assume, this latest chapter in the Commerce Department’s investigation into the possibility that imported autos pose a national security threat to the U.S. isn’t going over well. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2018

Automakers are not thrilled with the White House’s current interest in automotive tariffs. With factories scattered across the globe, no major manufacturer would go untouched by the proposed increases in import duties or the retaliatory tariffs foreign governments may issue in response.

There’s a lot to lose from a financial perspective. According to a recent analysis from Evercore ISI, Fiat Chrysler would take an annual hit of $866 million if the United States placed a 25-percent import tariff on cars. Considering that other automakers stand to lose at least that much, it’s unsurprising they’ve begun raising their corporate voices over the matter.

Granted, the FCA example is a worst-case scenario for that particular brand, but even a lesser tariff would see a profit loss of hundreds of millions. For an automaker like Mazda, the loss would be far worse. (Read More…)

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