By Sandy K. Johnson

 

Would you pay an additional $2,000 for a new U.S.-made car? How about $6,000 for an imported model?

In a nutshell, those are the stakes for the auto industry as the Trump administration explores tariffs in the range of 25 percent, saying they are necessary for national security reasons.

“We were surprised,” Jennifer Thomas, vice president of federal government affairs at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, told journalists at a National Press Foundation event.

The alliance is an advocacy group that represents 75 percent of car and light truck sales in the United States.

In the face of stiff tariffs, the industry is pushing its case with statistics: The auto sector supports more than 7 million jobs.  Fourteen domestic and international automakers operate 45 plants in 14 states. About 17,000 auto dealerships nationwide generate $995 billion in annual sales.

The alliance has compiled economic impact data for each state and also by congressional district. “The auto industry is one of the most powerful engines driving the U.S. economy,” Thomas said.

The industry has just recovered from the Great Recession, seeing vehicle sales slump from 17 million in 2000, to 10 million in 2010, and climbing back to 17 million now.

The domino effect when demand starts to drop, Thomas said, “unfortunately leads to job losses.” The short-term loss could be in the range of 195,000 jobs, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics.