Tariffs Prompt New 12 Volt Price Increases

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car audio tariffs

Some 12 volt suppliers reacted quickly to the newest 15 percent tariffs that took effect September 1 on Chinese goods including car radios with LCD screens, in-car monitors and speakers.

Harman (JBL/Infinity) and Rockford announced price increases effective October 1 and September 9, respectively.

Epsilon (Soundstream/PowerAcoustik) said it notified dealers it will announce a price increase of 8 to 12 percent on many products in next couple of weeks.

Some suppliers said they avoided price increases as long as they could, but the newest round of tariffs, following earlier 25 percent tariffs on amplifiers, plus high tariffs on wires, capacitors and other parts, pushed them over the edge.

“There’s a big bowling ball coming right at us all and we can’t avoid anything right now,” said Paul Goldberg of Epsilon.

“In the past, we were able to negotiate with our factories to offset a lot of the tariffs that were being charged,” he said, noting that the new tariffs cannot be absorbed. All told, the tariffs will cost the company in the 7 figures this year.

Boss Audio’s Doug Kern said of the tariffs, “It’s hitting us pretty hard.  We’re pushing our factories to see where they can give us better prices but the factories aren’t really moving. We haven’t raised prices yet.  We’re living off the inventory we have and letting the dust clear and we will be instituting price increases.”

The company paid to air ship in some of its higher priced CarPlay head units prior to the September 1 deadline to avoid tariffs, as the cost of air shipping was cheaper than absorbing the tariff.

Harman alerted dealers this week it would raise prices on dealer cost, minimum advertised price (MAP) and suggested retail price (SRP) on many JBL and Infinity speakers effective October 1.  The new price sheet did not show old prices but some of the new prices included:

JBL Mobile Stadium speakers at $159 to $449

JBL Mobile Stadium subwoofers  $229-$259

JBL Mobile CLUB series subwoofers $149-$179

JBL Mobile Marine Series speakers $249 – $349

Rockford alerted dealers of price increases in dealer and MAP prices with MAP increasing generally $15 to $100 on car, marine, powersport and motorcycle speakers and subwoofers.

Other suppliers such as Alpine said they are still evaluating pricing.

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17 Comments

  1. Wow!
    “…because he is a true businessman…”
    Nothing could actually be farther from reality. ‘President knee-jerk’ has “no clue” on how to resolve, nor negotiate with the ‘monster’ that PRC has become. They are guilty of numerous dubious crimes (as detailed above), and should be held accountable, thru a collective and integrated strategy (see NATO alliance to suppress the potential Soviet threat).
    But ‘myopic’ efforts which only serve to financially penalize US end-users, and importer companies (where the vast majority of actual economic financial gain is created here), does virtually nothing to impact how China will respond — other than to simply reciprocate.
    China has a ‘long-horizon’ view of things (50 – 100 years), so their leadership, who will remain in place for decades, are well-aware that this Administration is ‘short-lived,’ and thus will have no real impact (same as these I’ll-conceived, misguided tariffs) on the trade balance landscape (and any other secondary agenda objectives), in terms of the “big picture” —
    It’s to China, this is all just ‘noise’ that PRC can easily deal with, given their perspective as this nothing but ‘short-term’ inane policy…
    The fact is, China pays nothing. We will unfortunately continue to have to ‘pay the price’ for having lack of any real, strategic thinking by this Administration.

  2. Mr. Gordon prefers to refer to people as dumb and stupid. And then down plays the positive efforts of the entrepreneurs that have built our car audio business. The entire intention of this forum is not the flex muscle of who knows World politics and economics better than the next guy. You come to a forum and insult the ones that have a possible narrower perspective because of a lack of knowledge. Fortunately you’re not our president making the decisions that basically we have to trust because he is a true businessman and understands what we’re up against with China. I applaud all of the other responses that put different thoughts on the table possibly in different directions whether it’s bringing back manufacturing to the US which might not be possible, or give JL Audio, kicker and Rockford enough reason and I believe they’re powerful enough to bring manufacturing back to the US where they had it some 15 to 20 years ago. BTW, great job JL Audio for your marine speakers an car audio subwoofers that you do build proudly in the USA.

  3. Not everything we buy is made in China. For example, the Alpine iLX-F259 and the iLX-W650 are made in Korea and iLX-107 and iLX-207 are made in Thailand where the iLX-F309 is made in China. If the customer needs the iLX-F309 the price increase is only $63.00 sheet and $100.00 M.A.P. on a deck that a customer will not have a problem with the price. That means only 1 out of 5 of our top selling Alpine head units was hit with tariffs. So, without getting into speakers and amps etc. My point is, buy smart and learn where the product your buying is built and make the necessary inventory adjustments. Exercise your purchasing power no matter how big or small you buy, you matter! The consumers are looking to you for what to purchase. If you believe in what your selling and always tell the truth the consumer will know it and be as excited as you. Remember how much fun our industry can be. Cars, Music and excitement. China needs to realize that we are in a global economy and needs to get in step and repair their poor reputation. Four simple words to China. DO THE RIGHT THING.

  4. Wow. The actual reason for the tariffs is being completely missed. It is not to bring jobs back to the good ‘ol US of A (although there will certainly be some). The real reason (Trump, like him or not, is certainly no fool – misdirection being his favorite tool) will not be stated DIRECTLY by Trump (although he alludes to the affect it is having regularly). The goal is to damage the economy of our #1 geopolitical foe, and drive manufacturing out of China. Who cares where it goes, so long as they lose it. This is a worthwhile goal, unless you prefer to have a new #1 world superpower. To be clear – a superpower that is A) Totalitarian, B) Worst Human Rights Abuser in the World and C) Clearly cares not one bit about its people (remember Tienanmen Square? paying attention to Hong Kong?) As for Friedman’s “The World is Flat”, his globalist mindset fails to take into account that perhaps there are reasons not to supply money and power to Totalitarian regimes for short term, marginally lower prices on goods. He completely fails to take into account currency manipulation, IP theft, government back “dumping” practices, and the ad nauseum list of reasons we would be far better to pay 3% more to avoid funding Chinese Colonialism, instead pretending that these are “no big threat” (current US inflation running at lower than 2% even post-tariff by the way). – See Pankaj Ghemawat’s total destruction of Friedman’s hysterically inane premise. Make Singapore Great Again? Shoot yea – better than making China Great Again, don’t you think? Or maybe once the Chinese gain enough financial power, they’ll have a kinder, gentler machine gun hand. ‘Nuff said.

    1. But unfortunately China buys (bought)19.5 billion (2017) in Agriculture from the good ol’ US of A but since the tariffs.. they’ve more than cut that # in half. Spending only 9.2 billion (2018).. So the heartland is suffering if not already bankrupt. Just another case of cutting off your nose to spite your face. The major problem is even if we create more jobs in the US (Amazon, ebay an online sources) will still have Americans buying Chinese (or anywhere else) products. Because they’re cheaper plain an simple. No one is buying higher priced US products (other than US trucks) when the Chinese equivalent is 1/3 the price even if its 1/2 the quality. Proof being all the cheaper Brazilian amps or Chinese knockoffs flooding the markets. Americans want to make more money too have more money to spend elsewhere….How about income tax breaks for those with receipts or proof for every $1000 spent on usa made products.. it would be great to get $1500 back for buying an F250, or buying US based groceries…

      1. I live in the heartland and we’re not only doing fine, we’re thriving, not going bankrupt. Most of the heartland states are enjoying the lowest unemployment and highest wage growth we’ve seen in decades. In case you failed to follow the economic data, US manufacturing growth can only be described as ,,,,, well,,,, robust.

  5. How are people this stupid in business for themselves? Do you think that they have read even one book on world trade or economics? Try ‘THE WORLD IS FLAT” by Thomas Friedman. Obviously they mistook competence in installation, merchandising, or fabrication as justification for self employment and now want to parlay that into commentary on world trade practices. There are almost 200 countries in the world, about 1/3 of them have stable governments, cheap labor, and infrastructure that will support the manufacture of these now tariff marked items in our industry. The manufacture of these items will go there, NOT to the USA. Essentially we’re “MAKING SINGAPORE GREAT AGAIN” with trump’s ill conceived trade war with China. Most of these items were never made here and will never be made here. Anyone who who doesn’t understand that is dumb as rocks.

    1. So how do you suggest forcing China to stop currency manipulation and IP theft? I’d really like to know your solution to this problem that our politicians have been allowing for decades. Please enlighten me as to your plan.

  6. if the last 5 presidents would have done their job, these tariffs would have already been in place little by little and we would not even have felt it. American Made products/electronics going into China are taxed at 50% (by China) which pretty much kills any possible market due to the fact they build so cheap. Trump is on the right track, just way too fast. Although, we did pay $1000.00 for a 28″ Sony Trinitron back in the ’90’s. Now, your Samsung 65″ at $600.00 will have to go up to about $750.00 so I really don’t know if we have much of a complaint. One thing is for sure, just like the FET tax on tires at 25% that has been there for some 8 years, Yokohama is now building tires in the USA because it is cheaper than paying the taxes. I just wish more of this “positive” aspect of the politics involved would get reported. It’s not Republican against Democrat or Trumps fault. we really need to look at what works for the USA and the tariffs can really work if applied properly.

    1. I think the key here is the “too fast” part. Suddenly adding these large taxes is definitely the problem. As much as the majority of people probably would like to see “Made in America” again, it will take time for that to happen if it does.

    1. Actually, it isn’t. A tariff removes the competitive advantage that China has held over domestic manufacturers for far too many years. In the short term, this appears to be a tax to the consumer. [The consumer ultimately votes with their wallet – an entirely voluntary action.] Over the long term, tariffs result in companies sourcing products from other places, domestic manufacturers included, or even bringing back their own manufacturing efforts to the US to remain profitable and competitive. There are real incentives for the US and China to resolve this. Time will tell if reaching for China’s jugular was effective. I predict it will be.

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