Toyota warning: Tariffs will push up auto prices

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump says he will introduce new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
  • Toyota says the tariffs would "substantially raise costs and therefore prices of cars and trucks sold in America."
Auto dealers say tariffs passed on to consumer

On a day when many automakers issued statements saying it's too soon to know how President Donald Trump's proposed steel and aluminum tariffs will impact the prices of cars and trucks, Toyota was blunt: get ready to pay more.

A statement from the Japanese automaker said in part, "...this would substantially raise costs and therefore prices of cars and trucks sold in America."

Toyota doesn't say how much prices will go up, but the message was echoed by the American Automotive Policy Council. Its president, Matt Blunt, reiterated what he said in mid-February about proposed steel and aluminum tariffs.

"This would place the U.S. automotive industry, which supports more than 7 million American jobs, at a competitive disadvantage," Blunt said.

While it is true the automakers like General Motors source 90 percent of their steel and aluminum from suppliers here in North America, the concern is what happens to the global price of those commodities. Even if steel and aluminum prices go up due to trade war, Mark Reuss, who oversees product development of purchasing for GM, is not sure it would lead to higher prices in the showroom.

"I'm not sure that we would pass, dollar for dollar, those price increases on to the consumer," Reuss said. "We are here to offset any of those material costs increases or approaches."

Reuss points out GM is focusing on a mixed material strategy for building its cars and trucks. That means a greater use of materials such as lightweight carbon fiber in building new vehicles.

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