March 2, 2018 / 9:54 PM / 22 days ago

UPDATE 1-More automakers warn Trump metal tariffs would boost car prices

(Adds Honda statement, background, earlier Toyota statement, Secretary Ross comments to CNBC)

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, March 2 (Reuters) - More automakers on Friday warned that U.S. President Donald Trump’s announced steel and aluminum tariffs would boost car prices by hiking commodities costs for manufacturers.

Honda Motor Co Ltd said in a statement that “imprudent tariffs imposed on imported steel and aluminum would raise prices on both domestic and imported products, thus causing an unnecessary financial burden on our customers.”

Ford Motor Co said “despite the fact that Ford buys the vast majority of its steel and aluminum for U.S. production in the U.S., this action could result in an increase in domestic commodity prices – harming the competitiveness of American manufacturers.”

In January, Ford warned that higher prices for metals such as aluminum and steel would be a significant drag on earnings this year.

Auto lobbyists were still scrambling to learn the details of the tariffs and if they would apply to all countries and for what time period. Officials privately still held out hope that Trump would change his mind.

Toyota Motor Corp warned that while the “decision to impose substantial steel and aluminum tariffs will adversely impact automakers, the automotive supplier community and consumers as this would substantially raise costs and therefore prices of cars and trucks sold in America.”

John Bozzella, who represent Global Automakers, a trade group representing foreign automakers, said “investments earmarked for new products and plants will instead be funneled to pay for rising steel and aluminum prices used in existing products and facilities. There are better ways to address concerns about the American steel and aluminum industries. It’s time to go back to the drawing board.”

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross downplayed the impact on autos, telling CNBC Friday that there’s about a ton of steel in an average car — and that commodity currently costs $700. “So 25 percent on that would be one half of 1 percent price increase on the typical $35,000 car. So it’s no big deal,” he said. (Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Grant McCool and David Gregorio)

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