This story has been updated with new information.
Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is now adding to the remarks he made after a meeting with President Donald Trump in which he appeared to endorse the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back fuel economy standard and revoke the state of California’s ability to enforce tighter standards.
“I appreciated the opportunity to talk to the President today about our shared commitment to the automotive industry,” Marchionne said in a statement after the White House meeting at which Trump reportedly described Marchionne as his favorite person in the room.
“Consumer preferences and technological advancements in our business are constantly evolving. Therefore, revisiting and assessing EPA standards, as was originally intended, is the right thing to do. With this process just beginning, it would be a mistake to jump to conclusions and pre-judge the outcome.
“Rather, I am optimistic that the President can find a means to preserve a national program that drives continuous improvement in vehicle efficiency and, at the same time, allows us to build vehicles customers want, at prices they can afford. Achieving this result will require the willingness by all parties to compromise through thoughtful and data-driven dialogue.”
An FCA spokesman said the Marchionne’s comments were consistent with the company’s position, which had not changed.
(Trump meets with automakers about CAFE, blasts NAFTA instead. Click Here for the story.)
Ahead of an industry meeting with Trump and 10 major automakers, Marchionne said he supported White House efforts to revise vehicle fuel-efficiency rules to account for a shift in buying habits towards larger vehicles and hoped for an “agreed way forward,” according to Reuters news service.
Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency and its controversial director, Scott Pruitt, have recommended standards on model year 2022–25 vehicles should be revised, reversing a decision on tighter standards by the Obama administration in January 2017. The EPA also prepared a proposal to freeze the standards for 2020–22.
Pruitt’s proposals have been attacked vigorously by environmental groups, including the National Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace, which also have attacked carmakers for supporting Trump’s administration’s proposal to roll back the standards.
Several groups chastised Ford Motor Co. for supporting Pruitt’s position, forcing the company to issue statement in which it outlined its position that any national standard must also be approved by the state of California, which is the nation’s single largest market for new vehicles.
(Click Here to see more about the auto industry backing away from CAFE cuts.)
Marchionne said he also hoped the administration could reach a deal with California to maintain nationwide emissions standards. Trump is “probably the most consummate deal maker I’ve seen in a long, long time,” said Marchionne, while characterizing the Obama administration’s effort to “short-circuit” a review of whether standards through 2025 were appropriate as “improper.”
The tougher fuel-economy rules for the period 2022–25 imposed by the Obama administration days before it left office and endorsed by the State of California have been criticized by carmakers.
Marchionne has been particularly vocal in his criticism and competitors have suggested a key reason for his complaints has been the company’s anemic spending on research and development on electric vehicles and other new technology.
(To see more about Ford supporting keeping tougher CAFE standards after push by enviro groups, Click Here.)
Marchionne, however said the industry would continue to improve vehicle efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, no matter how the rules change.