Under the direction of President Donald Trump, the United States Commerce Department is considering plans to apply new tariffs on imported vehicles under the provisions of the same national security law employed by the U.S. to levy tariffs on aluminum and steel earlier this year.

The Trump administration has launched a national security investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to scrutinize whether vehicle and parts imports are threatening the industry's health and ability to research and develop new, advanced technologies, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

The development is the latest tariff threat from the Trump administration, whose frenetic actions on trade have given market watchers whiplash throughout 2018 as trade tensions get ratcheted up only to subsequently ease when faced with resistance from trading partners.