Fields was reporting on his conversation with Trump in remarks made at the National Automobile Dealers Association in New Orleans, Bloomberg reports. The report also states that he and fellow CEOs Mary Barra of GM and Sergio Marchionne of FCA aren't seeking to eliminate fuel economy standards altogether, but rather to make them more flexible.
Bloomberg reports that Fields didn't cite the studies he was referring to in support of his job loss figures, so we can't independently verify Fields' math at this time. But his push to stop selling cars consumers don't want – that is to say, more hybrids and EVs than consumer demand supports right now – is clear. We've already reported on that.
To level an educated guess at what will happen next, Trump seems likely to reduce the stringent 2025 fuel economy targets, perhaps freezing them at current levels. The automakers are already invested in producing vehicles that meet current standards, and they also have to think about foreign markets like Europe that aren't likely to relax standards below current levels. If you consider economies of scale, automakers are likely to ask for federal standards that match global standards for their largest markets as closely as possible.
We'll see if Trump buys Fields' math, but Ford isn't hedging its bets. Backing out of the Mexican assembly plant cost the company $200 million – not a huge sum compared to the total value of Ford, a massive company which had its second best year ever, but still an important gesture to Trump about Ford's priorities.