Trump is getting heat for his threat to impose tariffs on “imported” cars in order to help American car companies. But what about all the “American” cars built outside America?
And what about the “import” brands that build their cars here?
GM and Ford and FiatChrysler have plants in Mexico. The American 1500 series trucks they build there are shipped here. They are objectively imported. Should they be tariffized?
Toyota has a yuge operation in California. Nissan builds its trucks in Tennessee. Honda has plants in Ohio. BMW builds SUVS in South Carolina. Are these “imported” cars? Should they receive protection from the “foreign” competition – even if the brand in question happens to have its corporate HQ here?
The fulsome scurvy truth is there’s no such thing as an “American” car – or an “imported” one. Not anymore.
Not as they used to be.
People outside the business don’t realize how international not just the car companies have become but also the cars – most of which wouldn’t run without common parts from Bosch (injectors) and Denso (electronics) and ZF (transmissions) and a bunch of others, regardless of the brand on the fender.
Cars are built to a global standard nowadays. Like it or not, it is what it is.
The current Ford Mustang, as a for-instance. It was specifically designed not just for America but also for Europe and other export markets. The influence of this works both ways. One way – in the case of the Mustang – is that it remained rear-wheel-drive. American Mustang buyers demand this – would revolt if Ford changed this to the more common front-wheel-drive layout. So, that stayed. But the Mustang also got a standard four cylinder engine – with a turbo – which was done to make the car more agreeable to European/export market buyers who have to deal with (among other things) gas prices twice as high as what we pay.
The point is, the architecture – an industry term – is global. Go visit a major automaker’s web page; read about it for yourself.
Nationalism is an anachronism, at least in terms of how cars are designed and built as well as where they are built.
Did you know that Jaguar (and Land Rover) are owned by an Indian conglomerate? They are British in heritage, but no longer English. Should they be hit with punitive taxes on account of this? How about all the Buicks GM builds in China? Speaking of that . . . who do you suppose owns Volvo these days? Hint: It’s not the Swedes.
The point here is that imposing tariffs based on who’s an “import” and who’s not is going to be yugely problematic. Trump is operating on the basis of a false premise – one that hasn’t existed in fact since at least the 1980s. In those days, one could at least speak accurately of imported and domestic cars. It is much harder to do so today without it just being idiot demagoguery cynically calculated to inflame the boobs who don’t know any better. Who think, for instance, that their all-American truck was actually made in American rather than hecho en Mexico.