What do Americans think of foreign cars?

Do Imports Threaten the American Auto Industry?

car industry

by Felix Richter,
Automotive industry in Germany
The American President Trump caused a stir last year when he announced that he would be investigating whether the import of foreign cars would threaten national security. Using this detour, Trump already enforced the tariffs on steel and aluminum and it should be clear that national security should also serve to legitimize tariffs in the case of the automotive industry. On Sunday the U.S. Commerce Department presented the results of his investigation to Trump. Should this come to the conclusion that national security is actually threatened by car imports, Trump could impose tariffs on foreign cars within the next 90 days.

But is the American auto industry, let alone national security, really threatened by rising imports? Our graphic below shows that the share of foreign vehicles in car sales in the USA has by no means increased significantly. Last year, the proportion of foreign cars was around 23 percent, lower than in the 1980s and in the first decade after the turn of the millennium. It should be noted, however, that cars that are built in Mexico and Canada (in many cases for American manufacturers) are counted as domestic vehicles. However, Trump is also considering to impose tariffs on these, which Ford and Co. should not taste at all.