If you’ve been following the news, you may have heard about President Trump proposing a 25 percent tariff on imported cars and their parts. So far, much of the discussion has focused on new cars but in reality, the proposed rules would affect us JNCers just as much. Currently, the import duty is 2.5 percent, so imagine that increased by a factor of 10 for car or part imported from Japan. Here’s what you can do about it.
Even if you’re not in the market for a new car, the you won’t be immune from the tariffs, as even the collector car market is caught in the crossfire. Let’s use one of the most popular cars for import an example. If you’re planning to drop $30,000 on a R32 Skyline GT-R, the new price would be $37,500 before state taxes, titling and licensing fees.
The same applies to parts, too. If you’re looking to import a set of used $1,500 Hoshino Impuls from Japan, get ready for that $37.50 import duty to become $375! This also would extend to run-of-the-mill replacement parts too, not just performance parts.
In the end, even cars built in America, like the Camry or Corvette, would get more expensive due to components coming from overseas. In the United States, where manufacturing is extremely expensive, the vast majority of aftermarket OEM replacement parts comes from overseas. Items like brake rotors, air filters and gaskets aren’t economically viable to produce stateside, where price is often a key point.
As a result, a simple ignition system tune up could surge in price. That ignition tune up for a 1991 Honda Civic which runs around $120 for a cap, rotor, plugs and wires would increase to $150. While we can easily just live with the cars we have stateside already, maintenance is required to keep the car on the road and a 25 percent increase in most of these parts would really hurt.
The Trump administration has claimed national security as the reason for these tariffs, their logic being that if we are dependent on a foreign power for producing parts and vehicles, in times of war not having our own manufacturing infrastructure would lead to a production shortage. When WWII happened the entire American automobile sector was re-purposed to build tanks, Jeeps, and various armaments, so there is a form of logic to wanting a stronger automobile industry in America, even if you don’t care for cars from the Big Three.
The powers that be are saying that if we were to enter a state of total war like in WWII, we would need our factories for defensive purposes and having them outside of the United States could leave us open to an attack. By imposing a tariff on any automobile produced outside of America, this would theoretically force manufacturers to build factories here, stateside. While this may work, it is a very blunt and draconian means to the goal. Most economists agree it would likely bring some jobs here but at the cost of many more.
Luckily and are two very powerful lobbyist groups representing the nations automobile dealership network and the aftermarket industry of America, respectively. Both are actively working to persuade representatives that a tariff here would be deadly to the automotive business.
Their worries are that both of those industries are completely reliant on imported components, not just in finished products themselves. Even companies that produce aftermarket parts in the US, like coilovers and ECUs, use components that are imported. The squeeze between raised overhead and lost sales on these primarily small companies could cost the country jobs and eliminate the companies from the aftermarket altogether.
A tariff on automobiles would have a negligible affect on national security, and would only endanger American jobs and our car culture as we know it. Regardless of how you feel about the tariffs, though, it’s important to tell your representatives. The US Department of Commerce recently opened a public comment period lasting until June 22 regarding the investigation of imposing tariffs. If you want to read the exact legal jargon, in all of its Times New Roman governmental glory.
If you want to voice your opinion but don’t know who you should , type in your zip code or address to and it will automatically look up the correct parties. When you call them to discuss your views on the potential tariffs know that they are formally named, The Department of Commerce Section 232 National Security Investigation of Imports of Automobiles, Including Cars, SUVs, Vans and Light Trucks, and Automotive Parts.