During a March 15 roundtable, President Donald Trump pledged to create new jobs in the American auto industry.
CEOs from several automakers as well as the president of the United Auto Workers trade union, Dennis Williams, attended the roundtable, according to The Detroit News.
In a speech to workers from General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Ford, Trump said he would fight to keep production in the United States.
"The assault on the American auto industry is over," he said, according to The Detroit News. "Believe me, it's over."
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Trump pushed auto executives to commit to building "modern plants like you're building in Mexico."
"We want to have new plants built in Michigan, and new plants built in Ohio, and new plants in Pennsylvania and North Carolina and so many other locations," he said.
Jim Lentz, chief executive of Toyota North America, expressed a concern about the call for new plants.
"If you take today as a starting point, that may not be fair to all companies," Lentz said, noting that the company had spent $5 billion since the 2010 recession on its current American factories -- and plans to spend twice that amount over the next few years improving those factories.
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Lentz added that Toyota had not laid off any U.S. factory workers during the recession and had hired 8,000 Americans since.
According to The Washington Times, Trump also addressed a top complaint among executives of the Big Three automakers by promising to reopen a review of fuel-efficiency requirements implemented by the Obama administration.
During his last days in office, Obama imposed a regulation that automakers increase fuel economy of their vehicles to an average of 50.8 miles per gallon by 2025. Obama's executive order cut short a review process that still had several months to run.
Mitch Bainwol, head of the Auto Alliance, which represents the 12 largest automakers, welcomed the decision.
"The Trump administration has created an opportunity for decision-makers to reach a thoughtful and coordinated outcome predicated on the best and most current data," Bainwol said, according to The Washington Times. "After all, these decisions impact the more than 7 million Americans dependent on autos for employment, as well as the driving public seeking affordable transportation. Our industry is committed to producing even safer and more energy-efficient vehicles in the future, and that’s what this process is all about."
But environmental groups were less enthusiastic. Some threatened to challenge Trump in court.
"As the auto industry embraces cutting-edge technology that saves money and prevents pollution, Trump is telling car makers to drive backwards," Vera Pardee of the Center for Biological Diversity said. "An administration that won’t accept basic scientific facts is driving us off the climate cliff."
“We want to be the car capital of the world again,” Trump said. “We will be, and it won’t be long, believe me. ... We’re going to have a very big announcement next week having to do with your industry.”