In a meeting with President Donald Trump, Ford CEO Mark Fields said that 1 million jobs could be in jeopardy if new fuel economy rules don’t take into account consumer demand.
Trump met with the CEOs of Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler last week in an effort to encourage automakers to build new plants in the U.S. The three executives didn’t ask Trump to get rid of the standards, Fields later said, but instead focused the discussion on balancing regulations with market realities.
“We think having one national standard on fuel economy is really important,” Fields said at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in New Orleans, reports Bloomberg. He also said jobs “could be at risk if we’re not given some level of flexibility on that—aligning it to market reality. So that really resonated.”
Automakers have long been at odds with regulators over fuel economy standards. After the most recent election, a group of major car companies in the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers asked Trump to roll back the rules, citing costs as a major concern. Just one week before former President Barack Obama left office, the Environmental Protection Agency locked in fuel economy standards for 2025.
“Our fundamental priority remains striking the right balance to continue fuel economy gains and carbon reduction without compromising consumer affordability and vital auto-sector jobs,” Gloria Bergquist, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said about the EPA’s decision at the time. The Alliance includes General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, and a number of other automakers.
Originally, regulators wanted automakers to achieve an average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by the year 2025. It said the move would save drivers $1.7 trillion in fuel costs over the course of their vehicles’ lifetime. Due to booming sales of SUVs and trucks, the EPA relaxed that target to between 50.8 mpg and 52.6 mpg last year.