General Motors - California - Fuel Economy Fight

General Motors has “switched sides” in the fight over California’s rights to set its own fuel economy and emission standards.

Currently, US emission and fuel economy standards are different depending on the state you purchase a vehicle.  Some states set their own standards (California), some states follow California, and other have their own set of standards or none.  It’s no surprise that automakers would take the position of supporting a single standard nationwide.

When the clean Air Act was passed in 1970, California was granted authority to set its own tougher emissions standards. In 2007 the state attempted to limit even further greenhouse gases produced by cars and trucks while President Bush was in office. It took until 2009, under the Obama Administration, for those additional authority to be granted.

But the Trump Administration has taken the position that California shouldn’t have the right to set its own fuel economy and emissions standards. When the Trump administration proposed freezing federal standards a lawsuit was filed to prevent new direction and keep California’s authority intact.

Until recently, automakers had preferred for California and the feds to work out a compromise. Then in July, four automakers publicly backed California. Ford, BMW, Honda, and Volkswagen signed an agreement directly with with the state supporting tougher greenhouse gas, emission, and fuel economy standards. Effectively bypassing the Federal Government.

But with little progress since then, the rest of the industry has been increasingly pressured to take a side. Late last week, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Maserati, McLaren, Aston-Martin and Ferrari filed a brief in the lawsuit supporting the Trump Administration, effectively splitting the industry.

The group of automakers who intervened in the lawsuit are called the “Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation.”

The Detroit Free Press Reports:

“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.”

The Obama Administration had required new fuel economy standards to rise to 30 mpg by 2021 and 36 mpg by 2025. The Trump Administration would like to freeze those standards at the 2021 levels and claim relaxing the standards will reduce new vehicle prices by around $2,700 by 2025.

However, Consumer Reports found that an owner of a 2026 vehicle would save even more, around $3,300 in fuel, if those stricter standards are enforced.

Stay tuned to GM-Trucks.com for more details on the this federal fuel economy fight, how it will effect future pickup sales and GM’s future electric pickup.