Car Industry

Trump metal tariffs snatched away $1 billion in profits, CEO says

Ford already receives an overwhelming majority of its metal from the US.

Ford

Tariffs on imported steel and aluminum can still cause big hits to companies that get most of their metal from the US.

The Trump administration tariffs on steel and aluminum have cost Ford approximately $1 billion in profits, Reuters reports, citing comments from Ford CEO Jim Hackett at a Bloomberg conference in New York. "If it goes on any longer, it will do more damage," Hackett said at the conference.

The problem could be much worse if Ford wasn't already getting most of its metal from tariff-free sources. According to Hackett, Ford sources a majority of its steel and aluminum from the US. A tweet from Automotive News reporter Nick Bunkley says 95 percent of Ford's steel and 98 percent of Ford's aluminum comes from domestic sources, but Ford has not confirmed any specific figures.

But extra costs don't come from imported steel and aluminum alone. As its competition gets slapped with tariffs (25 percent on steel, 10 percent on aluminum), US producers have raised their prices to increase profits while still being cheaper than foreign imports. Some of Ford's increased spending has likely gone toward these price hikes.

Even if Ford received 100 percent of its metal from American sources, it would still pay higher prices than before the tariffs were implemented, and Ford isn't exactly hiking prices across the board to make up for that increased cost.

Ford

This isn't the first time the US' fledgling trade war has squeezed Ford in the wrong way. In late August, Ford announced that it was canceling plans to sell the Chinese-built Focus Active in the US in light of the tariffs. The Focus Active isn't projected to sell in high-enough numbers to make US production feasible, so now, instead of getting one next-gen Focus variant, the US will get none.

The Trump administration levied these tariffs in an attempt to bring China to the table to forge a new trade deal, but so far, all that's happened is both countries have slapped additional tariffs on additional goods. The federal government is also investigating whether or not it should impose a 25 percent tariff on cars and car parts coming from the European Union, a move that has been nearly universally panned across the automotive industry. A final decision has not been announced yet.

According to Reuters, IHS Markit forecasts that a full-on implementation of all these tariffs could have wide-reaching ramifications. Price tags for new cars could rise between $1,800 and $5,700, IHS believes, and it could reduce annual sales by more than 2 million vehicles by 2020, costing hundreds of thousands of related jobs in the process.

2018 Ford EcoSport: The EcoSport is an import, too, but it comes from India.

2018 Ford Mustang: Don't worry, the Mustang is still built here.