Automotive companies on both sides of the Atlantic pushed back on President Donald Trump's talk of a trade war with Europe using a similar refrain: Everyone will suffer if his rhetoric becomes reality.
"Tariffs are not good for anybody," Steven Armstrong, head of Ford Motor Co.'s European operations, said Tuesday in a Bloomberg Television story at the Geneva International Motor Show. "Any form of tariff is going to be bad news for us and lift our costs, and we're going to pass that through, probably to the consumer."
Big automakers such as Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp., smaller manufacturers such as Volvo Cars and PSA Group and even a group representing American auto dealers echoed the sentiment in the wake of a tit-for-tat between Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. The comments suggest the auto industry could form a unified front after the president tweeted he could slap levies on BMWs, Audis and other cars shipped from Europe if the U.S.'s planned tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are met with retaliation.
The war of words adds to uncertainty for the auto industry already dealing with disruption stemming from volatile political environments, the decline of diesel and the advent of self-driving technology.
"The world is already chaos, so a little bit more, a little bit less, it's already chaos," Carlos Tavares, CEO of PSA Group, the maker of Peugeot, Citroen and Opel vehicles, said in an interview in Geneva. "It's better that we have an open world where we can trade peacefully."
Trump tweeted over the weekend that European cars "freely pour" into the U.S. and have created a "big trade imbalance." But with more and more German cars made in America, the nation's deficit with Europe's largest economy narrowed to about 64,000 vehicles last year.
Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson said that tariffs could affect the carmaker's plans to export from a plant it's building in South Carolina, where half of the 4,000 projected jobs are tied to shipping S60 sedans and XC90 crossovers to overseas markets.