Trump tariffs on Mexican goods: Here are cars that would take a hit

President Donald Trump last week announced tariffs on goods imported from Mexico, starting June 10, unless Mexico takes significant steps to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants and Central Americans seeking refugee status in the United States. Speaking Tuesday in London, Trump reiterated that it was «more likely» he’d impose those tariffs, which would start at 5 percent and escalate monthly to 25 percent by October. U.S. manufacturers, especially automakers, are alarmed and
scrambling to react to a move with such far-flung consequences that it could even
raise the price of gasoline.

June 10 is Monday, yet a lot could happen to avert this. Mexico’s foreign minister was meeting with Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday, and Mexico could make some commitment that the president could hold up as a victory. Or Trump could be dissuaded by those who are advising against the move. But, «I’m convinced, he’s committed to this,» Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.,
told The New York Times. «He’s serious as four heart attacks and a stroke. He’s moving forward.»

Or Congress could intervene. This is getting so real that Senate Republicans who have stuck by Trump at every turn may — as strong backers of free trade — vote to overturn Trump’s strategy. It would have to be veto-proof. But Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., a close Trump ally,
told Politico that «a lot of Republican members of the Senate are tariff weary. It’s like: Anything but tariffs.»

Trump on Tuesday said U.S. and Mexican negotiators would keep talking after the tariffs are triggered, so that’s hopeful. If this is a short-term situation, automakers may be able to absorb the cost. But if this goes on longer, as the trade war with China has, billions of dollars in duties on some $99 billion in annual automotive imports could be passed along to consumers. By one industry analyst’s calculation, a 5 percent tariff would
raise the cost of an average vehicle by $300. It’s unclear whether tariffs would apply to the full price of a car assembled in Mexico as some accounts have indicated, or just to its percentage of Mexican content. (More on that in a moment). But on the extreme end of this situation, if the full 25 percent tariff were to apply to, say, the full average U.S. vehicle transaction price of $36,000, then somebody would be paying an extra $9,000. That’s a car you might no longer want or afford.

So just which vehicles are we talking about? The vast majority of cars on the road contain parts from Mexico, parts that would get dinged by the tax man every time they crisscross the border in the auto industry’s complex manufacturing chain. And some cars undergo final assembly in Mexico before being trucked north.

If you see yourself in the market for a car in the coming months, here’s a rundown of what you’re up against. First, here are the car models built south of the border, a list assembled by
Car and Driver from data out of
Automotive News:

  • Audi Q5
  • BMW 3 Series, some
  • Chevrolet Blazer, Cruze Hatchback, Equinox, Silverado 1500 Crew Cab, Trax
  • Dodge Journey
  • Fiat 500
  • Ford Fusion
  • GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab, some Terrains
  • Honda Fit, HR-V
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Infiniti QX50
  • Jeep Compass
  • Kia Forte, Rio
  • Lincoln MKZ
  • Mazda 3
  • Mercedes-Benz A-Class
  • Nissan Kicks, Sentra, Versa, Versa Note, NV200 Cargo
  • Ram 1500 Classic Regular Cab, 2500/3500/4500/5500, ProMaster
  • Toyota Tacoma, Yaris
  • Volkswagen Golf, Golf SportWagen, Jetta, Tiguan

But the reach of these tariffs would be far more extensive than that. Cars assembled in the U.S. or even in Canada, such as the Chrysler Pacifica minivan or Chrysler 300 sedan, have a significant percentage of parts made in Mexico. In fact, 90 percent of the OEM parts Mexico makes go to the United States.

So here is a list of vehicles, ranked by percentage of Mexican content. This is data from the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington, D.C. — its annual
Made in America Auto Index. The figures below are from its most recent list, for the 2018 model year.

The Kogod site’s spreadsheet, with 544 entries, has far more specificity, down to the trim level and engine, than we’re giving you here. Only about 80 of those 544 listings contain no Mexican content whatsoever. (And keep in mind that many of the vehicles with little or no Mexican content are from Japan and Europe, which Trump’s administration has determined are threats to national security and potential targets of a separate set of tariffs.)

For our purposes, we’ve lumped some trims together and have only gone down to the 25% level. (That $36,000 average car, with 25 percent Mexican content, could face a $2,250 duty at the 25 percent rate.)

But we hope this gives you some idea of the scope:

  • Audi Q5, 75%
  • Ford Fiesta, 70%
  • Toyota Yaris, various trims, 70%
  • Jeep Compass, various trims, 69%
  • Audi SQ5, 66%
  • Nissan Versa Note, 65%
  • Mazda 3 Sport, 65%
  • Dodge Journey SE Blacktop, 64%
  • Ford Fusion, all powertrains, 60%
  • Lincoln MKZ, 60%
  • Nissan NV200 Cargo, 60%
  • Nissan Versa sedan, 60%
  • Nissan Senta non-turbo, 55%
  • Fiat 500, 54%
  • Chevy Trax, 50%
  • Nissan Kicks, 50%
  • VW Beetle Convertible, 47%
  • Hyundai Accent, 47%
  • Kia Forte, 47%
  • Kia Rio, 47%
  • Honda Fit various trims, 40-45%
  • VW Beetle 2.0 and Dune, 45%
  • GMC Sierra, 44%
  • Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV 4WD, 44%
  • Chevy Suburban, 44%
  • Chevy Tahoe, 44%
  • GMC Yukon, 44%
  • Chevy Silverado 1500 Z71 4WD 6.2, 44%
  • VW Jetta various trims, 28-44%
  • VW Golf hatch and wagon various trims, 37-44%
  • VW Tiguan, 43%
  • Chevy Equinox, 40%
  • GMC Terrain, 40%
  • Nissan Sentra turbo, 40%
  • Kia Forte S, 40%
  • Honda HR-V various trims, 30-35%
  • Ram ProMaster City, 34%
  • Chevy Cruze, 34%
  • Chevy Colorado, 30%
  • Dodge Challenger SRT, 29%
  • Chrysler Pacifica, 29%
  • Dodge Durango various trims, 28%
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee, various trims, 26-27%
  • Dodge Ram 1500 Classic, various trims, 27%
  • Dodge Charger, various trims, 26%
  • Buick LaCrosse, 25%
  • Chevy Malibu, 25%
  • Tesla Model X, 25%
  • Tesla Model 3, 25%
  • Ford Focus, 25%
  • Chrysler 300, 25%

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