The Latest: Alabama factory worker warns against car tariffs

Americans who work for international auto companies demonstrate against trade tariffs they say will negatively impact U.S. auto manufacturing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 19, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — The Latest on a U.S. Commerce Department hearing Thursday into whether imports of cars, trucks and auto parts pose a threat to American national security that would justify hitting them with tariffs (all times local):

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12:11 p.m.

John Hall, a maintenance worker at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing plant in Montgomery, Alabama, testifies that auto imports pose no threat to U.S. national security. "In fact, it's just the opposite," he says. Hyundai imports parts that go into its Alabama-built cars.

"New tariffs on automotive imports would have a devastating effect," Hall says. "I am one of thousands of American workers whose livelihoods would be put at risk by a substantial tariff on automotive goods. It would not be possible to change our supply chain overnight, and a 25 percent tariff on parts would raise production costs at our Alabama factory by about 10 percent annually. This would force us to raise prices and cut production. A lot of Alabamians, my friends and neighbors, could lose their jobs."

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11:55 a.m.

Auto dealers are coming out against the proposed tariffs.

One of the dealerships that Jeff Crippen owns in Lansing, Michigan, sells only Mazdas, all of which are manufactured in other countries and shipped to the U.S., mainly from Japan. A 25 percent tariff on imported vehicles likely would jack up the cost of those vehicles, some of which are hot-selling SUVs, pricing them out of the market.

But Crippen, partly as a defense mechanism, says he's not worrying just yet, largely because President Donald Trump says a lot of things that don't become reality. "I don't know if I believe it's actually going to happen. Or maybe I don't want it to happen," says Crippen. "I'm not too concerned about it yet. I don't know if I'd be doing anything different anyway."

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11:12 a.m.

President Donald Trump's proposed tariffs on car, truck and auto parts imports are getting little public support. Jennifer Thomas, vice president of federal government affairs at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, is testifying against the levies and notes that "our view is shared by over 2,200 comments that were filed before this hearing. In fact, we were only able to find three organizations" that support the idea.

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10:45 a.m.

Imposing a 25 percent tariff on auto imports would raise the price of the typical new car sold in the United States (now about $35,000) by $4,400 — $2,270 for U.S.-built cars and $6,875 for imported cars and trucks, according to a study released Thursday by the Center for Automotive Research.

"New tariffs or quotas would also reduce competition and consumer choice; increase the cost of used vehicles; and raise the cost of getting vehicles serviced and repaired," says Peter Welch, president of the National Automobile Dealers Association, which commissioned the study.

Welch says the tariffs would push the average new-car payment to $611 a month from $533 a month (over 69 months on average).

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10:20 a.m.

Automakers, dealers and suppliers are united in opposition to President Donald Trump's proposed tariffs on imported cars, trucks and auto parts.

"The opposition is widespread and deep because the consequences are alarming," Jennifer Thomas of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers tells a Commerce Department hearing on the tariffs Thursday.

Trump has ordered the department to investigate whether auto imports pose a threat to U.S. national security that would justify tariffs.

Automakers say the tariffs would drive up the cost of imported components and would invite retaliation by US. trading partners.

In a study out Thursday, the Center for Automotive Research found that a 25 percent tariff on autos and parts would cut U.S. auto sales by 2 million and wipe out 714,700 jobs.

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