Major automakers are siding with California against the Trump administration’s push to roll back Obama-era vehicle efficiency standards, as they scramble to dodge years of court battles and regulatory uncertainty and bolster their public credibility in the face of a mounting climate crisis.
“Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW are aligning with California for stricter rules,” The Guardian reports. And the mercurial current occupant of the White House has taken notice. In a morning tweet last week, Trump “criticized the ‘politically correct Automobile Companies’, arguing his proposal would lower car costs and have ‘very little impact on the environment’.”
He later asserted that Ford Motors founder Henry Ford would be disappointed that his company wants to “build a much more expensive car, that is far less safe and doesn’t work as well, because execs don’t want to fight California regulators.” [From our first-hand experience department…this makes it pretty clear that Trump has never driven an electric vehicle bigger than a golf cart.—Ed.]
“Producing cars that use more gasoline could make it harder for American companies to compete in the U.S. and abroad,” The Guardian writes, citing Jeff Alson, a former air quality advisor with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and an architect of the Obama plan. “And the recent deal with California is more favourable than the Obama rules. Under an agreement last month, four companies pledged to reach an average fuel economy for new cars and trucks of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2026. The state made some concessions to automakers, giving them an extra year to meet the standards and allowing more flexibility to get credit for electric vehicles.”
The deal also enables the companies to position their products for a new generation of car buyers who will be walking into showrooms with the climate crisis on their minds. “If you want to maintain a positive branding reputation with future generations,” Alson asked, “do you want to be siding with the person that most of us think is the biggest climate denier in the world?”
Obama’s 2011 fuel economy regulation “required automakers to roughly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks by 2025,” The Guardian notes. “Trump’s proposal would freeze the standards at 37 miles per gallon.”