Ryan Urges Trump to Listen to Auto Execs

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13, is urging President Donald Trump to reverse his decision to relax fuel standards for the U.S. auto industry, which he says weakens the market for efficient passenger vehicles such as the Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze.

In April, the Trump Administration released a proposal that would lower fuel-economy goals for auto manufacturers. The initial plan instituted under President Barack Obama called for each manufacturer to have an average fleet fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The Trump proposal would freeze the average at the 2020 goal, around 42 mpg.

Such a change would incentivize the sale of trucks and SUVs and hurt the sales of smaller cars like the Chevrolet Cruze, built at General Motors’ Lordstown Complex, Ryan said.

Trump met Friday with domestic automaker executives, including General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra, who also advised Trump that he reinstate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy standards.

“Today President Trump met with U.S. auto executives who urged him to maintain the EPA’s fuel economy targets. I hope he listened. Last month GM Lordstown announced the layoff of the second shift, throwing the lives of 1,500 employees into uncertainty,” Ryan said.

“While low gas prices paved the way for the decline of compact cars like the Chevy Cruze, President Trump’s April announcement to weaken fuel economy standards put his thumb on the scale in favor of the larger cars and SUV’s made elsewhere, hurting our community specifically,” Ryan continued.

On April 13, General Motors announced that it would eliminate the second shift at the Lordstown plant, laying off 1,500 workers, as sales of the Cruze continued their decline. The announcement followed the April 2 final determination by President Trump’s EPA to rescind fuel standards for light-duty vehicles spanning model years 2022 through 2025.

The EPA’s move was not a surprise, Ryan noted, since EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt has questioned climate scientists, eliminated the Clean Power Plan and is now working to roll back fuel economy standards that are reducing carbon pollution.

“The truth is, the fuel economy standards help sell more Chevy Cruzes,” Ryan said, “and if President Trump truly cares about workers in Lordstown, he will reverse this disastrous decision that hurts our economy, and our environment.”

Among those Trump met with Friday were executives from General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and U.S. executives of foreign automakers such as Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Honda, BMW and Nissan.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.