President Trump told leaders of the country’s largest automakers Tuesday that he will curtail “unnecessary” environmental regulations and make it easier to build plants in the United States, changes that he expects will shore up the manufacturing jobs he repeatedly promised to voters on the campaign trail.
After weeks of taunting the automotive industry over Twitter, Trump made a point to meet with the chief executives of General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler just days into his term. He has pressured the companies to build more vehicles in the United States and hire more Americans into manufacturing jobs.
“We have a very big push on to have auto plants and other plants, many other plants, you’re not being singled out … to have a lot of plants from a lot of different items built in the United States,” Trump told executives Tuesday. “It’s happening. It’s happening, bigly.”
But Trump’s efforts to increase U.S. auto manufacturing may require more than changes to environmental regulations or permits, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the industry, labor and economics group at the Center for Automotive Research.
Economics still favor building plants and hiring workers in Mexico, where labor is less expensive and there are fewer trade barriers. What’s more, Dziczek said the big automakers make investments knowing they will outlive any single president, regardless of what policies or regulations are put in place.
“This industry has been around for 100 years, and plants last for 40 or 50 years or more,” Dziczek said. “They can’t be swerving left and right every time there is a political change.”
Chief executives Mary Barra of General Motors, Mark Fields of Ford and Sergio Marchionne of Fiat Chrysler attended the meeting, along with other top executives from their companies.