Donald Trump met with top execs at all three major U.S. automakers on Tuesday, in a sit-down in which he laid out his desire to see the car companies create new factories in the U.S. and boost their stateside output. His comments at the meeting echoed sentiments expressed by Trump throughout the campaign and early into his presidency on Twitter and elsewhere.
Trump said at the meeting he’ll cut regulations, noting he believes they can cut them “by 75 percent, maybe more” and leading to expedited approvals for new manufacturing facilities, reiterating earlier commitments to do the same, and noting that environmentalism in general is “out of control” in his opinion. These comments were made with FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne in the room, whose company is currently facing both EPA and Department of Justice investigations regarding the carmaker’s alleged use of software to control emissions and skirt established U.S. limitations on the same in production vehicles.
Also present were GM CEO Mary Barra and Ford CEO Mark Fields, making this the first time all three top execs at the so-called Big 3 met with the U.S. President since a meeting with former President Barack Obama in 2011 to discuss a deal that would set a target of doubling fuel efficiency across U.S. vehicles by 2025. Obviously, this meeting had quite a different tenor.
Fields said that “we’re very encouraged by the President and the economic policies that he’s forwarding,” and cited Trump’s decision to pull out of the TPP as a sign of why he’s “optimistic about working with the new administration. ”
“We’re excited about working together with the President and his administration on tax policies, on regulation and on trade to really create a renaissance on American manufacturing,” Field said, when interviewed by reporters following the meeting.
“There’s a huge opportunity, working together with industry and with government that we can improve the environment, improve safety and improve the jobs creation and the competitiveness of manufacturing and we’re looking forward to all the elements that Mark talked about to be able to do that,” added GM CEO Mary Barra.
FCA’s Marchionne responded to a parting question by a reported asking if the execs every felt intimidated by Trump’s aggressive tweets at them regarding keeping manufacturing jobs in the U.S., with a simple “No” delivered with impeccable comic timing. FCA also provided the following statement from Marchionne via email:
I appreciate the President’s focus on making the U.S. a great place to do business. We look forward to working with President Trump and members of Congress to strengthen American manufacturing.
Trump has also reportedly effectively shut down the EPA, putting a pause on all the agency’s activities while his administration reviews its budget, spending and policy initiatives, something which is highly unusual even during a transition of power. He also will sign executive orders to push both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines forward, both of which have been opposed by environmentalists, but will mean increased access to traditional fuel sources in the U.S.