Automakers warn Trump metal tariffs will drive up car prices

But commerce secretary does some math and declares it ‘no big deal’

WASHINGTON — More automakers on Friday warned that U.S. President Donald Trump's announced steel and aluminum tariffs would boost car prices by hiking commodities costs for manufacturers.

Honda said in a statement that "imprudent tariffs imposed on imported steel and aluminum would raise prices on both domestic and imported products, thus causing an unnecessary financial burden on our customers."

Ford said, "Despite the fact that Ford buys the vast majority of its steel and aluminum for U.S. production in the U.S., this action could result in an increase in domestic commodity prices — harming the competitiveness of American manufacturers."

In January, Ford warned that higher prices for metals such as aluminum and steel would be a significant drag on its earnings this year.

Auto lobbyists were still scrambling to learn the details of the tariffs, said to be 25 percent on foreign steel and 10 percent on foreign aluminum, and whether they would apply to all countries and for what time period. Officials privately still held out hope that Trump would change his mind.

Toyota warned that the "decision to impose substantial steel and aluminum tariffs will adversely impact automakers, the automotive supplier community and consumers, as this would substantially raise costs and therefore prices of cars and trucks sold in America."

John Bozzella, who represents Global Automakers, a trade group representing foreign automakers, said, "investments earmarked for new products and plants will instead be funneled to pay for rising steel and aluminum prices used in existing products and facilities. There are better ways to address concerns about the American steel and aluminum industries. It's time to go back to the drawing board."

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross downplayed the impact on autos, telling CNBC Friday that there's about a ton of steel in an average car — and that commodity currently costs $700. "So 25 percent on that would be one half of 1 percent price increase on the typical $35,000 car. So it's no big deal," he said.

Reporting by David Shepardson

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