Trump met Tuesday with GM CEO Mary Barra, Ford CEO Mark Fields and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne to help convince them to open new auto plants built in the United States.
"We have a very big push on to have auto plants and other plants — many other plants," he told reporters at the start of the meeting with auto executives. "It's happening."
Trump has vowed to cut regulations and taxes to make it more attractive for businesses to operate in the United States. But he also has criticized automakers for building cars in Mexico for shipment into the U.S. and has threatened to impose 35 percent tariffs on imported vehicles.
Trump got a polite reception from the auto executives Tuesday, though few details were provided on how he plans to follow through on his pledge. GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler have all announced recent new jobs and investments in the United States, but are also continuing to build cars in Mexico.
Fields said automakers wanted to work with Trump to create a "renaissance in American manufacturing."
"We're very encouraged by the president and the economic policies that he's forwarding," Fields told reporters, praising Trump's decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which Fields said did not address intervention in currency valuations by trading partners. "As an industry we're excited about working together with the president," he said.
For more than a century the U.S. auto industry has been concentrated in the American Midwest, in part for historical reasons. Long before sophisticated global supply chains provided overnight delivery of parts and raw materials, American carmakers set up shop where their most important raw materials, steel and rubber were manufactured.
Over the years, the assembly lines operated by major manufacturers spawned a network of smaller suppliers throughout the region, where many parts makers are still based.