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Trump's Auto Tariffs Could Create a Road Block for Subprime Car Shoppers

  • 10% price jump would push marginal buyers off of new-car lots
  • Nissan, Kia small cars among the most vulnerable top sellers

If President Donald Trump decides to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported vehicles, cost-sensitive subprime borrowers are the most likely to get squeezed out of the new-car market, spelling trouble for the likes of the Nissan Sentra, Kia Forte and Hyundai Elantra.

Those compact cars, which are imported from Mexico and South Korea, were among the top-sellers among subprime consumers in the year ended June 30, according to Cox Automotive. The researcher estimates retail prices on those models would jump about 10 percent if vehicle tariffs are applied broadly.