General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and many others in the auto industry are siding with the Trump administration in a lawsuit over whether California has the right to set its own greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards.
The three companies, plus a trade association called the Association of Global Automakers, said Monday they plan to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the Environmental Defense Fund against the administration, which is planning to roll back national pollution and gas mileage standards enacted under the Obama administration.
In the past, most of the industry had taken the stance that it wanted one standard, and it preferred that California and the Trump administration work out differences to develop it. Negotiations haven’t gone anywhere, and in September, President Trump announced his administration would seek to revoke California’s congressionally granted authority to set standards that are stricter than those issued by federal regulators.
The automakers decided to intervene in the lawsuit over the issue of California’s right to set standards. By intervening, the automakers changed their stance to siding with the Trump administration against the state. The automakers’ group, called the “Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation,” also includes Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Isuzu, Maserati, McLaren, Aston-Martin and Ferrari.
“The certainty of one national program, with reasonable, achievable standards, is the surest way to reduce emissions in the timeliest manner,” said John Bozzella, CEO of Global Automakers and spokesman for the coalition. “With our industry facing the possibility of multiple, overlapping and inconsistent standards that drive up costs and penalize consumers, we had an obligation to intervene.”
“There’s a middle ground that supports year-over-year increases in fuel economy,” and promotes electric cars and innovation, he said.
The Trump administration has proposed freezing the standards at 2021 levels through 2025. A final proposal is expected by the end of the year. Many automakers have said they support increasing the standards, but not as much as those affirmed in the waning days of the Obama administration in 2016. Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW in July sided with California and agreed to voluntarily increase fuel efficiency.
Under the Obama administration requirements, the fleet of new vehicles would have to average 30 mpg in real-world driving by 2021, rising to 36 mpg in 2025. Currently the standard is 26 mpg.
The Trump administration contends that freezing the fuel economy standards will reduce the average sticker price of new vehicles by about $2,700 by 2025, though that predicted savings is more than double the EPA estimates from the prior administration. The administration says the freeze would make the roads safer by making newer, safer cars more affordable.
Environmental groups say the figures don’t include money consumers would save at the gas pump if cars got better mileage. A study released by Consumer Reports in August found that the owner of a 2026 vehicle will pay $3,300 more for gasoline during the life of a vehicle if the standards are frozen at 2021 levels.