A formerly classified report has been released and it's... interesting.
Not all automakers are created equal, at least that's how the Trump administration viewed things. The former president took a very different view across a range of issues, among them tariffs on imported goods, including new vehicles. Back in 2019, Trump threatened to impose tariffs on imported autos not only to favor domestic companies but also for national security reasons.
The US Commerce Department released a confidential Trump era report earlier this week that attempts to justify the need for tariffs on security grounds. The previous administration refused to release the report while in office. A lawsuit seeking its disclosure has proven successful.
President Trump sought to impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on foreign-built vehicles and parts, such as the Toyota Supra and Porsche Taycan. SUVs and crossovers, including the popular Audi Q5, would have been hit with a 35 percent tariff. Trump never followed through on the recommendations from then Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Senator Pat Toomey, a fellow Republican, was the one who drafted legislation demanding the report's release and he didn't mince words. "A quick glance confirms what we expected: The justification for these tariffs was so entirely unfounded that even the authors were too embarrassed to let it see the light of day."
Automakers were relieved the tariffs were never imposed because the result would have been price increases, job losses, and reduced spending on new technologies like autonomous vehicles. The redacted report argued that "significant import penetration over the course of past three decades has severely weakened the US automotive industry, as American-owned production of automobiles and automobile parts has been reduced by imports and the domestic manufacturing base has weakened." As a result, the report continues, a major decline in domestic R&D investments "jeopardizes US military leadership and its ability to fulfill America's defense requirements."
The report considers General Motors, Ford, and Tesla to be American automakers. Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep, however, are not; they're part of Stellantis, the newly-formed automaker formerly known as FCA and the PSA Groupe. Kind of ironic considering Jeep was recently named the most patriotic brand.