Sun, Mar 04, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Hyundai warns levies could jeopardize US production


Hyundai Motor Co warned it might rethink how many vehicles it builds in the US, joining the world’s largest automakers in speaking out against US President Donald Trump’s crackdown on steel and aluminum imports.

“Changes to the existing tariff structure could negatively impact our current US production and further expansion,” Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor said in an e-mail. “Imposing tariffs on steel could increase production costs, which could lead to higher prices for US consumers, and, potentially, decreased demand.”

Trump on Thursday said that the US plans to order tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum, with a formal order to be signed next week.

Hyundai’s comments go a step further than Toyota Motor Corp and Ford Motor Co, which have cautioned that the tariffs would make vehicles costlier while stopping short of saying that the levies could impact production plans.

The South Korean automaker builds Sonata and Elantra sedans and Santa Fe Sport crossovers at a plant in Alabama. Its affiliate, Kia Motors Corp, assembles Sorento sport utility vehicles and Optima sedans in Georgia.

Honda Motor Co yesterday called the administration’s move “imprudent.”

The imposition of the tariffs would raise prices on both domestic and imported products, causing an unnecessary financial burden on its customers, Honda spokesman Teruhiko Tatebe said by telephone.

The automaker sources its steel and aluminum extensively from US suppliers, he said.

Toyota, which plans to build a new US$1.6 billion factory in Alabama with Mazda Motor Corp, said the administration’s decision would “adversely impact” car companies by increasing costs and prices of cars and trucks sold in the US, even as more than 90 percent of the steel that Asia’s largest automaker needs in the US is from the country.

Meanwhile, Swedish home appliance maker Electrolux AB on Friday said it would suspend its investment in the US following the tariffs announcement.

“We’re freezing our investments,” Electrolux spokesman Daniel Frykholm was quoted as saying by Swedish news agency TT.

“We need to analyze the taxes and see how the market reacts,” he said. “To be clear: this is a message to the [Trump] administration — this is real negative for us.”

According to Swedish public television channel Sveriges Television, the investment of US$250 million is to modernize an Electrolux factory.

The intention of Trump to impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imported into the US “could render economically unjustifiable” the planned investment into the factory, Frykholm said.

Additional reporting by AFP

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