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Another Automaker Shows Interest in California Deal on Auto Emissions

President Trump is 'enraged' that automakers would agree with California in support of maintaining the Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, reports the Times. Mercedes-Benz is apparently preparing to join Ford, Honda, BMW, and VW in the private deal.
August 23, 2019, 11am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Last month, the White House was startled by a private deal between California and four automakers: Ford Motor Company, Honda, BMW of North America, and Volkswagen Group of America, to support an alternative to the administration's plan to freeze auto emissions/fuel efficiency standards at 2020 levels. Consequently, it "has mounted an effort to prevent any more companies from joining California," report Coral Davenport and Hiroko Tabuchi, energy and climate reporters for The New York Times, on Aug. 20.

Mr. Trump, described by three people as enraged by California’s deal, has demanded that his staff members step up the pace to complete his plan

In an effort to ensure that other automakers don't join the aforementioned four, "Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors were all summoned by a senior Trump adviser to a White House meeting last month where he pressed them to stand by the president’s own initiative, according to four people familiar with the talks," add Davenport and Tabuchi.

However, those efforts don't appear to be succeeding. Mercedes-Benz appears ready to join the four, "according to two people familiar with the German company’s plans," they report, and "a sixth prominent automaker — one of the three summoned last month to the White House — intends to disregard the Trump proposal and stick to the current, stricter federal emissions standards for at least the next four years, according to executives at the company."

“Many companies have told us — more than one or two — that they would sign up to the agreement as soon as they felt free to do so,” said Mary Nichols, the top clean air official in California.

Why don't automakers support Trump's plan?

Under the framework agreement on clean emission standards worked out last month with the California Air Resources Board, the four companies, which represent about 30 percent of the U.S. auto market, have agreed to produce fleets averaging nearly 50 mpg by model year 2026, one year later than the target set under the Obama administration.

By comparison, the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026, expected to be finalized this summer, only calls for fuel efficiency averaging 36 mpg. Trump tweeted that under his plan, vehicles would average $3,000 less in price.

But automakers "fear that the aggressive rollbacks will spark a legal battle between California and the federal government that could upend their business by splitting the United States into two car markets, one with stricter emissions standards than the other," write Davenport and Tabuchi.

Related in Planetizen:

Hat tip to InsideClimate News.

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 in The New York Times
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