U.S. President Donald Trump will meet 10 major automakers at the White House on Friday to discuss the fate of landmark fuel efficiency standards and a looming confrontation with California and other major states.
A draft proposal circulated by the U.S. Transportation Department would freeze requirements at 2020 levels through 2026, but the administration is not expected to formally unveil the proposal until later this month or in June.
Major automakers reiterated this week they do not support freezing requirements but say they want new flexibilities and rule changes to address lower gasoline prices and the shift in U.S. consumer preferences to bigger, less fuel-efficient vehicles.
Automakers also want the White House and California to reach agreement on maintaining national standards, fearing a prolonged legal battle could leave them facing two different sets of rules and extended uncertainty.
Trump plans to tell automakers he is willing to support a freeze and challenge California but wants the industry to back the effort, a senior administration official said. He also wants to know if they want him to fight on their behalf, the official said.
The chief executives of General Motors, Ford Motor, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, along with senior U.S. executives from Toyota Motor, Volkswagen, Hyundai Motor, Nissan Motor, Honda Motor, BMW, and Daimler will meet Trump, along with the chief executives of two auto trade groups.
Trump went to Michigan, a state that helped him win the presidency, in March 2017 and suggested he would soften the fuel rules. "The assault on the American auto industry is over," he told autoworkers there.
California and 16 other states covering about 40 percent of the U.S. population filed suit last week to block the Trump administration's efforts to weaken the requirements.
A White House official said Trump would hear from the automakers about the impact of the administration's forthcoming revisions to Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules and automakers' efforts to negotiate a national program with California.