The meeting with Trump and top administration officials and cabinet members was also attended by General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Ford Motor Co. So, President Trump, being the great negotiator that he is, is sending embattled EPA Director Scott Pruitt, along with DOT Secretary Elaine Chao to California with instructions to negotiate a deal on the EPA draft standards.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president and the automakers discussed "how best to move forward" on the fuel economy standards. California and automakers agreed to the rules in 2012, setting a single national fuel economy standard. A rollback at the federal level without California following suit would split the USA light-vehicle market into two. The bottom line? If Trump goes through with allowing implementation of Scott Pruitt's draft proposal on vehicle emissions, this would bring lawsuits from environmental groups as well as California. State officials in California and 16 other states covering nearly 40% of the population of the USA filed suit last week attempting to block the White House's efforts to weaken the requirements for fuel efficiency.
Trump told those attending that the country is importing many cars and the White House wants those vehicles to be made in the USA, adding they could be made in places such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and SC.
"Thank you, you're moving to MI from Mexico", Trump said.
Trump won the presidency in 2016 in part on his strength in the industrial Midwest states of MI and OH, which employ thousands of people in auto and parts manufacturing.
The White House meeting comes as trade officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States race the clock to reach a deal on a revised NAFTA but are hung up on Washington's demands to increase the US-made components in vehicles that receive duty free status. "I'm not representing Mexico and I'm not representing Canada", he said.
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Asked if the deal might adversely affect the industry, Trump said, "NAFTA has been a bad deal, we're renegotiating it now, we'll see what happens".
Trump said the trade pact was being renegotiated and that Canada and Mexico did not want to lose their golden goose. But I'm representing the United States.
The Trump administration is also reviewing fuel economy standards imposed at the very end of Barack Obama's administration in January 2017, and automakers have said they support changes. "We'll see if we can make it reasonable".
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 USA new vehicle sales.
Some environmental groups oppose any reduction in the standards, saying that the ones developed in 2012 allow for changes in consumer buying habits.
Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the discussions and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to comment publicly, said the White House expressed an openness to extending fuel efficiency standards until 2030 - one of California's key demands. CEO Jim Hackett, as well as Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America, Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler, BMW of North America CEO Bernhard Kuhnt, Volkswagen Group of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken and senior executives from Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Hyundai.