President-elect Donald Trump was hard on Ford during his campaign for the presidency. He was unhappy with its plans to produce vehicles in Mexico and threatened to create punishing tariffs on any goods imported back into the U.S. Now that he has won the election, Ford plans to ask Trump to lower fuel economy standards in an effort to keep jobs in the U.S.
This comes days after the Environmental Protection Agency came out in favor of keeping existing emissions standards that call for a corporate average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by 2025. They had until 2018 to review them but chose to announce their decision early in what most see as an attempt to ensure policies enacted during the Obama administration remain in place even after he leaves office.
This doesn’t mean the EPA’s recommendations can’t be changed and Ford is hoping Trump will toss them aside. According to Bloomberg, Ford CEO Mark Fields plans to lobby the president for things he thinks will benefit not just Ford, but the entire auto industry. This includes tax reform, safety guidelines for autonomous vehicles, and rules that will promote free trade. This is in addition to lowering fuel economy standards.
Fields says the current rules force automakers to build cars the public isn’t interested in buying. He notes there were 12 electric vehicles in 2008 and they accounted for 2.3 percent of the industry. Now there are 55 different models available and they account for 2.8 percent. The public doesn’t want these cars, but the EPA guidelines force automakers to build them anyway. Ford would much rather build the cars people want to buy.
Ford and Trump have already reconciled their pre-election tiff. Executive Chairman Bill Ford had a conversation with Trump after the election and it helped convince the company to keep building the Lincoln MKC in their Kentucky plant. There’s an open dialogue, now Ford simply wants to capitalize on it and make sure the incoming administration does what they think is the right thing for the industry.
Ford might be keeping the Lincoln MKC at their Kentucky plant, but they still do have plans to move some cars to Mexico. The Focus and C-Max hybrid will be crossing the border, although Ford says new cars produced at the Michigan facility will ensure no US job losses. Ford received no special incentives for keeping the Lincoln MKC here, but the decision paves the way for future concessions, like getting those EPA standards down to a number that makes automakers happy.