TOKYO -- Mazda Motor Corp. became the latest auto company to condemn the Trump administration’s plans for potential car import tariffs, saying such duties would hit both the industry as well as U.S. consumers.
The Japanese manufacturer said it filed comments on the Commerce Department’s investigation into car-related imports on Thursday, urging it to “reject the premise that auto imports are a threat to national security.” Mazda’s U.S. unit said in a statement it filed the comments on behalf of 32,000 Americans who work for Mazda and the brand’s dealerships.
The car industry is intensifying its push against the potential tariffs, part of a looming trade war. The duties would make imported cars more expensive, while also potentially hitting U.S. producers by making parts sourced from other countries pricier.
“A tariff is a tax and it will be paid by American consumers,” Mazda said. “It will significantly increase the cost of every new vehicle sold in America, regardless of where it is built.”
The carmaker currently imports all vehicles it sells in the U.S., mostly from Japan and Mexico, and is building a major assembly plant in Huntsville, Ala., with Toyota Motor Corp. Mazda projects that its U.S. sales will rise 4 percent to 317,000 units in the fiscal year ending March 2019.
Toyota also said it submitted comments to the Commerce Department. “A 25 percent tariff on automotive imports, which is just a tax on consumers, would increase the cost of every vehicle sold in the country. Even the Toyota Camry, the best-selling car in America, made in Georgetown, Kentucky, would face $1,800 in increased costs,” Toyota said in a statement.
The Association of Global Automakers, a Washington-based trade group that represents car manufacturers and parts suppliers based outside the U.S., called the potential duties “the greatest threat to the U.S. automotive industry at this time.”
Other Japanese carmakers would also be hit by tariffs. A third of Honda Motor Co.’s cars sold in the U.S. last year were imported, mostly from Canada and Mexico, and 48 percent of Nissan Motor Co. cars sold in the country were brought from countries including Mexico, Japan and South Korea.