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June 27, 2018 1:30 PM, EDT

Automakers Group Decries Being Cast as Threat to US Security

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

Auto manufacturers and suppliers based outside the United States condemned the Trump administration’s investigation into imports of cars and parts by portraying as absurd the idea that their products pose national security risks.

“America does not go to war in a Ford Fiesta,” the Association of Global Automakers said in 12 pages of comments submitted to the U.S. Commerce Department, which began its investigation last month. “The greatest threat to the U.S. automotive industry at this time is the possibility the administration will impose duties on imports in connection with this investigation.”

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Tariffs would substantially increase prices for consumers, and retaliation against U.S. car exports would be inevitable, said John Bozzella, the president of Global Automakers, whose members include manufacturers Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. and suppliers Robert Bosch GmbH and Aptiv. Global Automakers submitted its comments along with a second group, Here for America, whose members include Volkswagen AG and BMW AG.

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Rather than promote employment, the 25% tariffs that the Trump administration is reportedly considering would spur hundreds of thousands of American job losses, according to the groups. Their comments referred to an LMC Automotive analysis that estimated the tariffs could lower U.S. vehicle sales by as much as 2 million units a year.

“The 130,000 Americans who work for international automakers are no less patriotic or willing to serve their country in a time of crisis than any other Americans,” the groups said.

Overseas-based manufacturers built nearly half of all vehicles produced in the United States in 2017, according to the groups.

Most of the companies are based in countries that remain staunch allies that “have stood by the United States for decades,” they said.