German car giants warn Trump’s tariff threat is a ‘critical situation’ for them

Alongside seismic structural shifts taking place in the car industry including electrification and autonomous vehicles, German carmakers say that the potential for punitive U.S. tariffs on European car and part imports are casting a large shadow over the industry.

CEOs at the Geneva Motor Show told CNBC that geopolitical tensions and the threat of trade wars were the biggest unknown facing the industry right now.

“It is a critical situation for us,” Herbert Diess, the CEO of VW Group, which comprises Porsche, Audi and Seat among other brands, told CNBC Tuesday. “Mostly, our premium brands here in Germany are depending on the import market of the U.S. Audi and Porsche have significant market share there, so this is a threat,” he said.