Automakers Divided on Emissions Rules

October 29, 2019


“States rights” are an important value for Republicans, when it comes to, say, keeping black people from voting.

Not so much when it comes to diluting pollution/mileage standards.

New York Times:

Breaking with some of their biggest rivals, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota said Monday they were intervening on the side of the Trump administration in an escalating battle with California over fuel economy standards for automobiles.

Their decision pits them against leading competitors, including Honda and Ford, who this year reached a deal to follow California’s stricter rules. It represents the latest twist in one of the Trump administration’s most consequential rollbacks of regulations designed to fight climate change. It has also opened a rift among the world’s biggest automakers — the very industrial giants that the Trump administration maintains it was trying to help with regulatory relief.

The Trump administration has proposed a major weakening of federal auto emissions standards set during the Obama administration, prompting California to declare that it will go its own course and keep enforcing the earlier, stricter standards.

The automakers siding with the administration, led by the industry group the Association of Global Automakers, say that the federal government, not California, has the ultimate authority to set fuel economy standards for passenger cars and trucks.

John Bozzella, chief executive of the automakers association, said the group still hoped for a middle ground. “We can still reach an agreement that is supported by all the parties,” Mr. Bozzella said.

Still, the auto industry has “historically taken the position that fuel economy is the sole purview of the federal government,” he said, “though it doesn’t have to come to that.”

The legal fight between the Trump administration and California over auto pollution rules has swelled into a battle over states’ rights and climate change that is likely to only be resolved once it reaches the Supreme Court. Its resolution could have repercussions affecting pollution regulations across the United States, as well as states’ rights to set their own environmental laws and the future contours of the auto industry.

After Mr. Trump won the presidency, automakers initially sought rollbacks in the Obama-era rules. However, the administration went further than expected in weakening the emissions rules, creating the predicament for automakers that is now dividing the industry.

Ironically, with countries around the world signaling they will be banning internal combustion engines, weakening CAFE standards ultimately makes US carmakers less competitive in a world that is moving to EVs.

NYTimes again:

Under the decades-old Clean Air Act, California has the power to write its own clean-air rules, and the state has taken the Trump administration to court to defend its authority.

Several other states have pledged to follow California’s lead in enforcing stricter standards for auto emissions, meaning that their actions have the potential to split the United States auto market, with each side selling vehicles with different sets of pollution standards.

In July, Honda, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW sided with California in the battle, striking a deal with the state to follow more stringent standards close to the original Obama-era rules. That surprise agreement would allow those automakers to meet both federal and state requirements with a single national fleet, avoiding a patchwork of regulations.

The pact came as an embarrassment for the Trump administration, which assailed the move as a “P.R. stunt.” In what was widely seen as a retaliatory move, the Justice Department subsequently opened an antitrust inquiry into the four automakers on the grounds that their agreement with California could potentially limit consumer choice, according to people familiar with the matter at the time the inquiry was opened.

In a statement, Honda distanced itself from Global Automakers’ intervention.

“Honda is not a participant in this litigation,” said Marcos Frommer, a Honda spokesman, “and is not contributing any funds supporting our trade association’s activity in this area.” Honda has already locked in vehicle greenhouse gas standards through model year 2026 based on the stricter standards agreed on with California, Mr. Frommer said.


The internal combustion engine appears to be on its last lap. More than nine countries and a dozen cities or states have announced what the media has called “bans” in the last few years. Copenhagen mayor Frank Jensen wants the city to end all new diesel cars starting next year. Last December, Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City said they would  remove diesel cars and vans by 2025. Norway will phase out conventional cars by 2025, followed by by France and the United Kingdom in 2040 and 2050, respectively.

Yet despite all these commitments, no country has actually passed a law prohibiting anything. ”There is literally not a single ban on the books in regulatory language that is enforceable in any auto market in the world,” Nic Lutsey, director of the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), said by phone. That doesn’t make them meaningless. Politicians, most of whom will be out of office by the time any bans take effect, can’t tie their successors hands decades into the future. US president Trump, for example, is already busy trying to revoke California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own pollution standards and electric vehicle mandates. If successful, Trump would negate bills such as the one proposed by the state legislature last year to end manufacturing and registration of new gasoline cars in California by 2040.

Futures Center:

Beginning March 1st 2019 in the Hainan province of China, internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEs) will no longer be sold.  The ban, which includes both petrol and diesel cars, will be the first of its kind in China. Hainan, with a population of more than 9 million residents, aims to entirely eliminate ICEs in the province by 2030 and is rapidly installing EV charging infrastructure in service of its objective.


PARIS (Reuters) – Paris authorities plan to banish all petrol- and diesel-fueled cars from the world’s most visited city by 2030, Paris City Hall said on Thursday.

The move marks an acceleration in plans to wean the country off gas-guzzlers and switch to electric vehicles in a city often obliged to impose temporary bans due to surges in particle pollution in the air.

Paris City Hall said in a statement France had already set a target date of 2040 for an end to cars dependent on fossil fuels and that this required speedier phase-outs in large cities.

“This is about planning for the long term with a strategy that will reduce greenhouse gases,” said Christophe Najdovski, an official responsible for transport policy at the office of Mayor Anne Hidalgo.




Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: