Automakers Stand By Fuel Standards Attacked By Trump

Written by SK Ashby

Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week that they will revoke California's legal authority to set its own fuel economy standards, but the good news is those standards aren't going anywhere. At least not yet.

While the fuel economy standards the state of California and the group of automakers agreed to are not quite as strict as the state (and the Obama administration) originally proposed, automakers are keeping the standards they did agree to with the state.

Hours after the Trump administration formally revoked California’s legal authority to set its pollution standards, [Air Resources Board] Chairwoman Mary Nichols lauded the four companies “for standing their ground on this issue” in spite of the Trump administration’s efforts to force them to pull out of the agreements. [...]

A Ford Motor Co. spokeswoman, Rachel McCleery, said the company won’t deviate from the California agreement. She referred a reporter to a set of deal terms in which all four companies recognized California’s legal power to create its own standards on greenhouse gas emissions.

A BMW spokesman, Phil Dilanni, said the agreement commits BMW to “continuous improvements in fuel economy and the reduction of emissions from our vehicles.” Honda had no comment and VW officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

Automakers are standing by the standards, at least for now, because abandoning them would be bad for business and not just because it would harm their public image.

As others have point out, vehicles with improved fuel efficiency are conceptualized and designed years before they go into production and automakers have already made investments in the next generation of cars and even the next generation after that.

Abandoning the agreements and investments they've already made just wouldn't make any sense. It doesn't make sense politically or economically.

Trump claimed that rolling back fuel economy standards would create jobs, but automakers say the standards are actually saving jobs because it makes their cars more competitive and appealing to consumers.

"Many more cars will be produced under the new and uniform standard, meaning significantly more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business," Trump tweeted.

However, U.S. automakers contend that without a substantial increase in fuel efficiency, their vehicles will be less competitive globally, which could potentially result in job losses.

"Automakers support year-over-year increases in fuel economy standards that align with marketplace realities, and we support one national program as the best path to preserve good auto jobs, keep new vehicles affordable for more Americans and avoid a marketplace with different standards," said Dave Schwietert, the interim CEO and president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents Ford, General Motors and other leading U.S. auto manufactures.