Giant automakers General Motors and Honda Motor Co. are joining the pushback against the Trump administration’s bid to unwind vehicle fuel efficiency standards, with GM calling for a national electric vehicle sales program and Honda endorsing steadily tougher mileage standards.
“We know that we can do better” than the Trump plan, Mark Reuss, GM’s executive vice president of global product development, told media.
In a submission to regulators, GM urged the U.S. government to get seven million long-range EVs on the road by 2030 and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 375 million tons, rather than trying to fight California’s zero-emission vehicle sales mandate.
“The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in August recommended keeping federal fuel-economy requirements at 37 mpg from 2020 through 2026, instead of raising them to about 47 mpg by 2025 under rules adopted by the Obama administration,” the LA Times notes. “The agencies also want to revoke the most populous U.S. state’s authority to adopt fuel efficiency rules of its own, including its electric car mandate.”
California vowed to fight the federal rollback as soon as it was announced, and on Friday, the powerful California Air Resources Board called on Washington to withdraw the plan. “The only clear winners from the efficiency-killing proposal are oil companies.” said Executive Officer Richard Corey.
Automakers were already nervous about Trump picking a fight with California and the 18 other states that have adopted its tougher standard, fearing the uncertainty the market would face in the course of a protracted court battle. Now, “GM is taking a leadership position in at least offering an alternative to what could be this endless battle between the federal government and California,” said Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs. “Whether the administration will accept it, that’s another question.”
But “some greeted GM’s proposal with skepticism,” the Times notes, with David Friedman, an Obama-era NHTSA executive who’s now advocacy VP for Consumer Reports, arguing that a national EV mandate would do little to shift automakers away from making gas guzzlers unless it was combined with tough efficiency requirements.
“The devil is in the details,” he told the Times. “We hope GM is truly serious about this proposal. If they are, they will support the existing standards they committed to meet back in 2012 and sit down with us and other organizations to craft a proposal designed to help all consumers.”