According to California Governor Gavin Newsom, two more automakers, one of which is Mercedes-Benz, are considering joining California’s emissions plan. So far, Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda have come to an agreement with the California Air Resources Board to increase fuel efficiency in defiance of the Trump administration’s efforts lower standards.
“This was a big blow to the Trump administration that we were able to accomplish, and I don’t think they saw it coming,” Newsom said Tuesday after giving a speech at an environmental summit.
In July, a senior Trump adviser invited Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, and General Motors to a meeting at the White where they were asked to back the president’s plan, which would freeze fuel standards at 37 miles per gallon. Under the California agreement, however, automakers would agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 4% annually in the next five years. The agreement would increase average vehicle fuel economy to 50 miles per gallon by 2025.
“About a quarter of that mandate could be offset by credits for adopting cleaner technologies in the vehicle design, such as improved internal temperature controls, and by selling more electric or hybrid cars,” the San Francisco Chronicle’s Alexei Koseff reported.
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Aside from Mercedes-Benz, one of the automaker’s that attended the White House meeting in July, is contemplating the California plan. “Together, the six manufacturers who so far plan not to adhere to the new Trump rules account for more than 40% of all cars sold in the United States,” New York Times journalists Coral Davenport and Hiroko Tabuchi reported.
Greenhouse gases are a leading cause of climate change. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “the transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to anthropogenic U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.” Trump, on the other hand, has called global warming a “hoax,” claiming that raising fuel efficiency standards would have very little impact on the environment.
“The clean car standards are the most effective policy we have on the books to fight climate change, and the transportation sector is the country’s largest source of the carbon pollution that causes climate change,” nonprofit advocacy group Sierra Club said in a statement Wednesday. “The Trump administration’s push for dirtier, less efficient vehicles would pump more carbon pollution into our air.”
More cars are sold in California than in any other US state, which gives it much more leverage with the auto industry. The deal with the four automakers would ensure that the companies manufacture cars and trucks for the US market that adhere to the mileage goals.
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Under the federal Clean Air Act, California has the right to determine its own mileage and pollution standards, however, the Trump administration wants to challenge that law. Trump tweeted on Wednesday that Henry Ford is “rolling over” in his grave at the “weakness of current car company executives” for accepting the deal with California. Ford Motor Company, however, stated that it is “proud to lead the way in taking the right actions for the environment while at the same time protecting consumer affordability and the short- and long-term health of the industry.”
Despite Trump’s claims that the new standards will bankrupt the auto industry, experts believe that the potential increase on the sticker price of new cars will be offset by the lowered fuel costs over the life of those vehicles.