After failing the first time, Tesla gets a victory.
There has been a lot of news lately about various automakers struggling with the US government's 25% tariff on vehicles and parts built in China. Several automakers have asked for an exemption on their Chinese-built models, including Buick for the Envision and Volvo for the XC60, but both companies received a big fat no as an answer. Even Tesla was denied an exemption for two Chinese-built components that go into its Model 3 sedan.
Stories like this make it apparent that the US Commerce Department is being pretty strict in its tariff enforcement, but according to Reuters, Tesla has just made a breakthrough with its request to have tariffs waived for some of the parts it needs. The decision comes from the Commerce Department, which ended up granting Tesla an exemption for components coming in from Japan. Even though the exemption doesn't cover equipment imported from China, it's still a significant accomplishment.
Tesla reportedly made a request to the US Commerce Department in April seeking an exemption for aluminum manufactured by the Nippon Light Metal Company in Japan. Government documents say Tesla asked for a tariff exemption on 10,000 tonnes of aluminum per year, which were set to be hit by a 10% tariff. Tesla argued it needs aluminum sheets with different width and thickness and that US facilities could not produce them. The company issued a statement saying its US manufacturers cannot "meet the alloy composition or thickness requirements. Domestic producers also cannot meet the annual volume requirement.”
Tesla was able to get the exemption because aluminum manufacturers in the US can't match the company's high standards. A Commerce Department document posted in June says that aluminum "is not produced in the United States in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or of a satisfactory quality.” The only issue with Tesla's waiver, however, is that it's valid for only one year. Still, this is a major win for Tesla after being denied an exemption for the computer and the Autopilot controller used on the Model 3. Perhaps this means the US government will be willing to grant exemptions for goods imported from counties other than China.