The world’s largest automakers are cutting emissions even as Trump rolls back regulation

Posted at 8:37 AM, Jul 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-26 09:34:17-04

Four of the world’s largest carmakers -— Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW — are going forward with plans to make more fuel-efficient vehicles for the US market, despite the Trump administration’s plans to roll back the rules.

The companies struck a deal with air quality regulators in California, promising to deliver fleets of cars that average 50 miles per gallon by model year 2026, and they vowed to stick to that standard in all 50 states. The Washington Post first reported the news earlier Thursday.

The move will essentially put the four automakers on track to comply with tougher emissions rules even as the Trump administration works to roll back policies put in place under President Barack Obama.

Regulatory pressures around the world, including in Europe and China, are pushing automakers to produce electric vehicles. Automakers anticipate consumers will start buying more electric vehicles in the future as prices drop.

Automakers are spending billions to develop electric vehicles and more fuel-efficient gas vehicles, and many fear regulatory uncertainty will set back their efforts. They were not thrilled by the Trump administration’s policy shakeup.

The Obama rules would have required automakers to produce vehicles with an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 model year vehicles. Because of differences in the way fuel economy standards are calculated, the government’s targets are considerably higher than the EPA numbers customers see on window stickers.

A group of 17 leading automakers from around the world wrote to President Donald Trump in June asking him to strike a deal with California, which has led the fight for tougher rules on behalf of itself and 12 other US states.

Ford, Honda, VW and BMW said in a joint statement that the deal they struck with the California Air Resources Board this week will be used to “preserve a single 50-state framework for the regulation of greenhouse gas.”

“A 50-state solution has always been our preferred path forward and we understand that any deal involves compromise,” the companies said. “These terms will provide our companies much-needed regulatory certainty by allowing us to meet both federal and state requirements with a single national fleet, avoiding a patchwork of regulations while continuing to ensure meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reductions.”