A Reminder That Trump’s Tariff’s Continue to Screw Car Buyers

Another cool thing we can’t have because Trump threw a tantrum.

byMike Guy| PUBLISHED Feb 19, 2019 5:17 PM
A Reminder That Trump’s Tariff’s Continue to Screw Car Buyers

On Monday, the US auto industry sent a letter to the Trump administration begging it not to saddle imported cars and auto parts with even more steep tariffs. I know some of you out there get annoyed whenever The Drive has the temerity to bring politics into the world of cars. To you snowflakes, I say this: What are you stupid or what? Everything is political. Especially economic policy, and especially how those policies impact an entire swath of society.

Monday's letter riled me up. So I think it's worth posting this quick reminder: Failed New Jersey casino owner and American President Donald Trump imposed tariffs of 27.5 percent on Chinese car imports, and 25 percent on trucks. Which is to say, he’s imposed a 27.5 percent tax on American buyers of Chinese car imports and a 25 percent tax on American buyers of Chinese trucks.

These numbers are something we all need to keep in mind as we think about how much Great America Trump is actually Making. I believe that reminding ourselves of the current administration's retrograde protectionist economic policies is I think a great way to #bebest, whether or not there’s a news peg.

I'm also thinking about the coming February 27 debut of next year’s Polestar 2, the second model introduced by Volvo’s newly electrified performance brand. Arriving on the heels of the $150,000, heavy-on-the-carbon-fiber  Polestar 1 gas-EV hybrid halo, the Polestar 2 is set to be Polestar’s entry-level performance EV—what a lazy writer would call a "Tesla Killer."    

The Polestar 2 is an all-electric car that should be going up against the formidable Tesla Model 3 in the United States—at all of the trim levels. I can only assume that's what Polestar had in mind when they drew up the plans for the Polestar 2. Best case scenario, it would introduce a $40,000 luxury EV into the American market around the time Tesla's tax relief began to expire. 

That's not what's going to happen—in the US. Sure enough, at the February 27 global reveal, Polestar will announce an indicated global price point that puts it well below the lowest priced Tesla Model 3 you can get in the US—starting at around $40,000. But that's not going to be coming to America.

I happened to bump into a Polestar spokesperson recently, and they confirmed to me that in the United States—where Donald Trump presides as president and hotelier—there are no plans to offer a version of the car in the $40,000 price range—despite the rest of world doing so.

The spokesperson wouldn’t get into this with me, but the main difference between the US and the rest of the world is the 27.5% tariff Trump is slapping on these cars. There’s only so much of that tariff that the consumer can bear. The remaining burden, we can only surmise, would eat into all the margins of the $40,000 car. So Polestar scrapped it.

And it's another thing we can't have. Thanks Obama Trump.