Toyota’s Jim Lentz is concerned but still bullish

Lentz: Very bullish, but worried about “some crazy” implications on trade policy.

DETROIT — The current trade and tariff environment under U.S. President Donald Trump is the greatest potential danger to the automotive industry, according to Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz.

While Toyota remains “very, very bullish” on the overall market, he said “some crazy” potential implications from trade and Trump’s investigation into the national-security impact of car imports “could be devastating to the industry.”

Trump’s tariffs on aluminum and steel under section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act have increased the Japanese automaker’s costs 40 percent, he said. That’s despite roughly 90 percent of its materials being sourced from the U.S.

Despite a “new” NAFTA deal — knows as the USMCA — being signed, Lentz said there’s still challenges ahead to get the deal through Congress.

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