MICHIGAN • A top US executive with South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co said President Donald Trump has “targeted” international car companies with tariff threats, showing little regard for whether those automakers build vehicles in the US and employ Americans.
“The scary thing is there seems to be a lot of conversation around importbased companies and not even much realisation that there’s a huge amount of vehicles produced here by international companies,” Brian Smith, Hyundai Motor America’s COO, said in an interview. “The whole tariff conversation isn’t around, ‘Well, we’ll produce here in the US and everything’s fine.’ It’s more about, the international companies seem to be being targeted.”
Smith was among 10 auto executives who met with the president in the White House last month to discuss issues including trade. Within weeks, the Commerce Department began invest igat ing whether imported cars are threatening US national security, and the administration is said to be considering tariffs of as much as 25%.
Trump travels to Canada last Friday for a Group of Seven meeting after having stoked trade tensions with US allies. Hyundai produces more than half the models it sells in America, including the Sonata sedan and Santa Fe SUV, at a factory in Alabama that employs 2,700 full-time workers.