GM CEO Barra, Trump silent on topics of their meeting
Now we watch @realdonaldtrump on Twitter.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra met with President Donald Trump on Thursday afternoon at the White House, but neither side provided any details.
Barra, leaving the White House, said only, “We had a productive and valuable meeting,” according to CNBC.
The two had plenty to talk about, from GM’s closure of assembly plants and current UAW talks to California’s fuel economy deal with four other automakers and the carmaker’s footprint in China, the world’s largest auto market.
GM has been a periodic target of angry tweets from the president, most recently last week when he erroneously slammed the company for having “moved major plants to China.”
Trade war impact: Trump would cost General Motors billions if he actually orders business out of China
While GM’s U.S. union workforce is smaller than Ford and and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, it still leads the Detroit Three in sales. And it did not “move” factories to China. Nearly all the cars GM and its Chinese partners build in China are sold there.
GM this year has closed its Lordstown Assembly Plant in Ohio and two transmission plants, and Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly is scheduled to idle in January — though that is subject to contract negotiations with the UAW now underway.
Trump’s GM-China tweet followed by about a week the president’s call for American companies to pull back from China, where GM makes about $2 billion a year.
Trump months earlier tore into Barra over the closure of the Lordstown plant, in a state critical to the president’s re-election bid, but the administration has been positive about ongoing talks to sell the factory to a group linked to electric truck maker Workhorse.
GM has declined, so far at least, to join Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW in saying they would voluntarily adhere to a compromise with California on fuel economy standards.
The deal rankles Trump because he wants to roll back an Obama administration rule that required carmakers to achieve a fleet average of 54 miles per gallon by 2025. Trump would freeze the standard at 2021’s 37 mpg paper requirement, and is fighting with California over its ability under the Clean Air Act to set its own pollution-fighting rules.
Of course GM also this week was named the target for contract negotiations with the UAW, a constituency with which Trump seeks favor.
GM declined to offer an outline of the discussions, saying, “Our executive team regularly meets with policymakers; we do not disclose details of those meetings.”
More: Why Trump is using Henry Ford, gas mileage to call out automakers on Twitter
More: UAW authorizes strike; union targets General Motors first in contract talks
Contact Randy Essex at REssex@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @randyessex. Read more on autos and sign up for our autos newsletter.