Keith Laing The Detroit News
Published 11:07 AM EDT Aug 21, 2019
Washington — President Donald Trump lashed out at “foolish” and “politically correct” carmakers Wednesday that have rebuked his administration’s effort to roll back gas-mileage standards and joined an agreement on gas-mileage rules with California.
The agreement negotiated directly between the California Air Resources Board and Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen AG, Honda Motor Co. and BMW AG, calls for carmakers to voluntarily increase the average fuel economy of their fleets to about 50 miles per gallon by the end of the 2026 model year.
The move comes in the face of the Trump administration’s two-year push to freeze fuel-mileage rules at about 39 mpg for model years 2021 to 2026. The White House has also pushed to revoke a longstanding waiver allowing California and other states to set their own stricter auto emissions standards.
“My proposal to the politically correct Automobile Companies would lower the average price of a car to consumers by more than $3000, while at the same time making the cars substantially safer,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. “Engines would run smoother. Very little impact on the environment! Foolish executives!”
The four carmakers agreed to increase the average fuel economy of their fleets from 2021 levels by 3.7% per year, reaching an average of nearly 50 mpg by 2026. If the Trump administration is successful in its effort to roll back the Obama-era mpg standards, other automakers would be bound by less restrictive federal rules.
Democratic lawmakers in Washington have pressured General Motors Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and a dozen other automakers to join rebuke the Trump administration’s effort to roll back gas-mileage standards and join the agreement with California.
“As representatives of states that signed the Nation’s Clean Car Promise, we believe that General Motors joining this agreement would save consumers money, reduce emissions, and provide regulatory certainty to the auto industry,” a group of 30 U.S. senators wrote in a letter to GM CEO Mary Barra that was released as an example.
“In the absence of an agreement between the Federal government and states, the California agreement is a commonsense framework that provides flexibility to the industry to meet tailpipe standards while also taking important steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money on fuel for consumers,” the letter, spearheaded by U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., continued.
Letters were set to the heads of Aston Martin, Fiat Chrysler, GM, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Toyota and Volvo.
Absent from the list of 30 senators — all Democrats — were Michigan U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township.
The Trump administration has dismissed the agreement between the automakers and California as “a PR stunt.” Other automakers have been pressured by both sides to either join or resist the deal.
The Trump administration announced last year its intention to ease stringent gas-mileage rules that would have required fleets averaging nearly 55 miles per gallon by 2025. The administration proposed a freeze in the mandate after 2020, touching off a fierce battle with California, which helped craft the Obama-era rules.
The two sides attempted to negotiate a potential agreement, but the White House said in February it was pulling out of the talks and moving forward with its proposed freeze.
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