A few months after Donald Trump was elected President in 2016, I was at the Detroit Auto Show, and I gauged the car business’ reaction to the man.
The big three – Ford, GM, and FCA – were delighted; the foreign brands were confused.
In short order, the Detroit automakers launched an effort to have fuel-economy standards, locked in by the late-Obama-era EPA, revisited with an eye toward keeping sales of big pickup trucks and SUV elevated. Detroit scored a quick victory on that one.
On to the corporate tax cut, which the industry figured would offset any sort of border tax on Mexico-made vehicles and parts that General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles needed to import. Detroit got that one, too.
Trump was basically in the bag. And then came the trade war.