Current fuel economy standards are being reviewed by President Donald Trump's administration, which some interpret as a first step in loosening those rules.
Trump made the comments during a rally at the former Willow Run bomber factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan, which is being redeveloped into a testing ground for automotive vehicles, Reuters reported.
The president said that he would "ensure that any regulations we have protect and defend your jobs, your factories. … The assault on the American auto industry is over," Trump said, according to Reuters.
The Obama-era fuel standards called for manufacturers to boost their fleetwide fuel economy to an average of 50.8 miles per gallon by 2025 from the current 35.3 mpg, the Washington Times reported.
Automakers charged that low gasoline prices are driving consumers toward pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles, making the tougher fuel efficiency standards harder to reach, the Times noted.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers, made up of some of the world's largest carmakers, asked the Environmental Protection Agency last month to relax the standards, which the Obama administration finalized Jan. 13, The Washington Post reported.
Trump's Michigan event was attended by United Auto Workers union president Dennis Williams and workers from Detroit's "Big Three" automakers -- General Motors, Ford Motor Co., and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Reuters reported.
"The Trump administration has created an opportunity for decision-makers to reach a thoughtful and coordinated outcome predicated on the best and most current data," Mitch Bainwol, chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry lobbying group, told Reuters.
Detroit Free Press senior business columnist John Gallagher, though, wrote that changing the standards would be an error.
"It's a mistake on two fronts. First, those tougher fuel economy standards would reduce the looming threat of global warming by reducing the volume of heat-trapping gases emitted from tailpipes," Gallagher wrote.
"… And, second, those tough fuel economy standards stand as a marker of the sort of innovation we need to see more of in the Michigan economy. If Ford, General Motors and Chrysler can meet the higher requirements, it would signify that Michigan stands second to none in its ability and commitment to technological excellence. Rolling back the standards signals that profits today are more important than progress tomorrow," he continued.
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