Tariffs cost Ford $1 billion in profit and hurt sales in China

Key Points
  • Tariffs on metals have cost Ford $1 billion in profits.
  • CEO Jim Hackett wants too see a quick resolution to the ever escalating trade war, or "there will be more damage." 
An employee works on a Ford Expedition sports utility vehicle on the assembly line at the Ford Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Kentucky.
Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Donald Trump's tariffs are hitting Ford's finances hard.

The second-largest U.S. automaker has suffered $1 billion in lost profits from tariffs on metals imported to the United States, said Ford CEO Jim Hackett in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Wednesday.

The U.S. has a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imported from several countries, an early step in an escalating trade war that threatens to raise prices on goods and deal a blow to firms in a wide range of industries, including autos.

The tariffs come at a time when Ford is trying to improve its financial health, raise its share price and sink money into developing new propulsion technologies, such as electric powertrains, autonomous driving technology, cloud computing technology for transportation and other mobility businesses.

South Korea trade deal won't benefit US automakers much
South Korea trade deal won't benefit US automakers much

Ford shares were down nearly one percent Wednesday morning.

"From Ford's perspective, the metals tariffs took about $1 billion profit from us," he added. "The irony is, we source most of that in the U.S. today anyways. So we are in a good place right now, but if it goes on longer there will be more damage."

The trade war is also creating difficulties for Ford's U.S. factories. Ford exports Lincoln vehicles from a plant in Louisville, Kentucky to China, where Hackett said the brand is popular. China's tit-for-tat 25 percent tariff hike, which raises the total duty to 40 percent on U.S. autos, has raised the price of the Lincoln MKC sport utility vehicle in China.

In July, Ford cut its full-year outlook, citing in part heavy losses in China in the second quarter.

"We have had to move people in that factory to other functions because of that trade problem," he said.