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US Imposes New Tariffs on Chinese EV Imports – Will Tesla See The Benefit?

Analyst Team trader
Updated 15 May 2024

In a recent that could reshape the electric vehicle (EV) landscape, the United States has announced sweeping tariffs targeting Chinese imports. Highlighting the growing shift towards protectionist policies, the U.S. administration has levied a staggering 100% tariff on electric vehicles, along with a 25% tariff on lithium-ion batteries and their components, and critical minerals such as graphite, permanent magnets, and cobalt, which are essential for battery manufacturing.

This landmark decision directly impacts US companies striving to develop affordable EVs, like industry giants Tesla, General Motors, and Ford Motor, as it significantly alters their competitive environment. It is expected that these tariffs will constrain the inflow of Chinese-made EVs, batteries, and battery materials, potentially influencing the speed and scale of EV adoption across the United States.

For US automakers, the announcement catalyzes a shift in strategy. With the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act already incentivizing consumer purchase of EVs through federal subsidies of up to $7,500 – conditioned upon the sourcing of batteries and raw materials from the US or its free-trade partners – the new tariffs further incentivize the reduction of dependence on Chinese imports.

Automakers are now more likely to develop supply chains circumventing Chinese inputs to remain eligible for the subsidies, which boosts domestic industry and could lead to more competitive pricing for consumers.

Forecasts still position U.S. EV adoption to hit a 40% mark by 2030, undeterred by the new tariffs. The intention behind these tariffs may be multifaceted: safeguarding national security, promoting local manufacturing, and providing a competitive edge to US automakers. The absence of subsidies for EVs reliant on Chinese-made components has already encouraged the industry to diversify supply chains, reducing the dependency on a single market.

The tariffs could restrict the entry of more affordable Chinese EVs into the US market, thereby opening a vast landscape for American manufacturers to fulfil domestic demand. Companies like Tesla, GM, and Ford Motor may find this an opportune moment to increase their market share and meet consumers' needs for affordable EV options.

It's pertinent to consider the global context of lithium production, largely dominated by China in terms of refining capacity. Although these new tariffs might seem to pose a threat, their practical impact on lithium producers might be less substantial, as the U.S. imports a minimal amount of lithium directly from China. Despite the tariffs, market projections indicate no foreseeable deviation from the anticipated surge in lithium prices during the latter half of 2024.

In summary, the new tariffs represent a significant pivot in U.S. trade policy with potential to reshape the electric vehicle market. With a protectionist approach aimed at bolstering local industry, the U.S. government is wagering that these measures will accelerate the domestic EV industry, promoting innovation and sustainability, while ensuring economic growth and competitiveness in a rapidly evolving global market.

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The AskTraders Analyst Team features experts in technical and fundamental analysis, as well as traders specializing in stocks, forex, and cryptocurrency.