Toyota takes on Trump's border tax, asks dealers for backup

February 1, 2017

Donald Trump's protectionist policies have been lauded in some corners, but they've also sparked outcries and protests from private individuals, government officials, and more than a few companies

As we reported earlier this week, the auto industry is included in that mix. Ford execs have slammed the president's immigration ban, and recently, Toyota asked its U.S. dealers to help fight Trump's proposed border tax. 

Specifically, the Japanese automaker urged its dealers to contact their elected officials, especially those on the House of Representative's Ways and Means committee. The message Toyota wanted to send? The 20 percent tax that Trump and others have floated in the media would make cars more expensive for a wide range of automakers and put American jobs at risk.

The call to action came around the same time that Toyota North America CEO, Jim Lentz, was telling attendees at the National Automobile Dealers Association about the downsides of a border tax--notably, higher costs for imported vehicles and lower demand from consumers. Lentz says that Toyota dealers would likely have to lay off some of their 97,000 U.S. employees if Trump's proposal goes through. 

Given the position that the American International Automobile Dealers Association has staked out on this matter, Toyota's reaction isn't all that surprising. However, it remains to be seen whether the company's dealers can persuade their respective elected officials in Washington to keep Trump's border tax at bay. 

Expect to see a lot more tension in the auto industry over the coming months--particularly among foreign car companies--as discussions around tariffs, taxes, and trade agreements accelerate. 

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