President Donald Trump told top auto executives at a meeting in the White House that he wants them to build “millions more cars” in the U.S.
“We have at this table the biggest car manufacturers in the world,” Trump said as the meeting got underway Friday. “We’re working on how to build more cars in the United States.”
Top executives of General Motors Co., Honda Motor Co., Ford Motor Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and other companies came to discuss trade and environmental standard We are not asking the administration for a rollback,” Ford Chairman Bill Ford said Thursday during the automaker’s annual meeting. “We want California at the table and we want one national standard.”
In attendance were representatives of the world’s biggest carmakers, including GM’s CEO Mary Barra, Ford’s CEO James Hackett, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, and Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Honda North America Inc Two auto industry trade groups confirmed in a statement that Trump was willing to talk with California, but they provided no specifics. The Alliance for Automotive Manufacturers and Global Automakers said they appreciated Trump’s “openness to a discussion with California on an expedited basis.”
During the meeting, one executive brought up how it would be better for the industry to have one standard instead of two, and Trump instructed Pruitt and Chao to go to California for talks, the people said. Trump said during the meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House that he wanted to discuss the “manufacturing of millions of more cars within the United States, for Michigan, for Ohio, for Pennsylvania” and states like South Carolina and North Carolina.
As the auto executives introduced themselves, the president joked to Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler, that “right now he’s my favorite man in the room” because he’s moving a plant from Mexico to Michigan.
Trump won the presidency in 2016 in part on his strength in the industrial Midwest states of Michigan and Ohio, which employ thousands of people in auto and parts manufacturing. The meeting came as the administration has been holding extensive negotiations with Mexico and Canada on a rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the auto industry is watching warily. Requirements now are lower for bigger vehicles such as trucks and SUVs, said Luke Tonachel, Car Cars “New Car” SUV manufacturing “Made in USA” Build Import Export U.S. USA America 2018 2019 Company CEO Talk Meeting Michigan industry transport Nissan Ford Volkswagon “General Motors” Business “big Business” deal BMW Mercedes “Mercedes Benz” Toyota Hyundai Honda Big Biggest Build Shipping tax “tax refund” “tax cut” jobs “new job” automotive negotiate negotiation “Used Car” Sale Energy Fuel “secondhand car” secondhand director of clean vehicles for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The standards automatically adjust to the sales mix of vehicles,” he said.
Environmental groups also say the industry marketed trucks and SUVs to the public because they make bring higher profits than cars.
Auto executives attending the meeting included Marchionne, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Ford CEO Jim Hackett and Bob Carter, executive vice president of North America for Toyota. saying they’ll have trouble reaching them because people are buying bigger vehicles due to low gas prices.
When the single national standard was adopted six years ago, cars, which get better mileage than trucks and SUVs, made up just under half of U.S. new vehicle sales. By the end of last year, however, trucks and SUVs were close to two-thirds of all sales.
Some environmental groups oppose any reduction in the standards, saying that the ones developed in 2012 allow for changes in consumer buying habits. Reducing the standards, they say, will increase pollution and raise gasoline prices at the pump.