The suddenly close relationship between the Detroit 3 and President Donald Trump has been mostly uncomfortable, with threats of tariffs putting automakers on edge.
But it has given the companies face time to lobby Trump. At least in one case, how they've used the access has been troubling.
As Ford CEO Mark Fields later recounted, he told Trump that about 1 million U.S. jobs could be at risk if automakers aren't cut some slack in fuel economy rules.
On examination, that number looks squishy.
In fact, it is the worst-case scenario among nine explored in a study by the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. (To view the study, click here.)
Other possibilities, factoring in different technology costs and gasoline prices, are less dire. Most of the calculations foresee job losses, but the rosiest projection shows a gain of 144,020 jobs.
Citing the most alarming possibility seems like a throwback to the bad old days when the industry trotted out scary statistics whenever any fuel economy, emissions or safety regulation was proposed.
The government-industry talks leading up to the current corporate average fuel economy regimen were a refreshing change. Although the target of 54.5 mpg by the 2025 model year is tough, automakers gained a deal in which emissions standards for the federal government and California were harmonized, a relief from the prior dueling rules. Also, automakers and the feds worked a deal that gave large-footprint vehicles lower mpg targets.