FRANKFURT (dpa-AFX) - Shares in German carmakers suffered on Wednesday due to fears of a customs dispute with China and negative signals from automotive supplier Stabilus. Its shares slumped by 15 percent after the company lowered its outlook. The reduction was viewed skeptically on the market with regard to global car production. However, news on the expected EU tariffs on imports of Chinese electric cars was particularly decisive for share prices in the sector.

The shares of Porsche AG as well as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen had already been under pressure by up to four percent in the course of the morning, but recently reduced their losses.

According to plans by the EU Commission, up to 38 percent duty is to be levied on imports of Chinese electric cars from July, depending on the brand. Whether these will actually have to be paid depends on whether another solution can be found with China.

Porsche AG shares recently reduced their discount to 2.2 percent, while BMW, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz fell between 1.1 and 1.9 percent. Investors had recently become increasingly concerned that the tariffs could lead to a reaction from China and thus to an escalating trade dispute.

Tom Narayan from analyst firm RBC said in an initial reaction that he had long argued that it would be politically difficult for the EU to impose high tariffs on Chinese imports. This is because German carmakers in particular are heavily dependent on the Chinese end market. He added that retaliatory measures could also affect European suppliers because of their dependence on Chinese battery technology.

According to Narayan, these factors explain why the tariffs are much lower than the 100 percent levied by the USA. In his opinion, German car manufacturers in particular could be negatively affected because they are more focused on premium vehicles. However, the expert sees the fact that they produce a large proportion of the vehicles sold in China locally as a mitigating factor.

Gas spring supplier Stabilus cut its outlook due to a lack of recovery. Bernstein analyst Stephen Reitman called this "a clear disappointment". This is because the management is actually known for its reliability. He sees the news as a warning that the improvements that many in the automotive supply industry were hoping for may not materialize in the end. Stabilus appears to be skeptical about global car production as a whole, wrote analyst Marc-Rene Tonn from Warburg Research.