Last week, General Motors switched sides of the California emissions debate, siding with the Golden State in its ongoing legal battle against the Trump administration to set its own emissions standard. Could Ford Motor Co. have played a role? Maybe.
Officials at the Dearborn, Michigan-based car company sent a letter to other automakers in the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, imploring them to support the state’s effort to set a tough emissions standard. The letter was sent ahead of a meeting of the industry group to be held later today.
Not only did GM change its position – the impact of Ford’s letter was likely minimal – but also Toyota Motor Corp. said it was reviewing its position on the matter. In the meantime, Ford was joined early in the debate by Honda Motor Co., Volkswagen AG and several others in siding with California, which is also supported by nearly two dozen other states, adopting similar measures.
The letter, which is signed by Kumar Galhotra, Ford president, Americas & International Markets Group, urges support, citing the automakers on both sides already favor tougher yearly standards for the industry and the election results basically mean that those regulations are going to revert back to a tougher benchmark.
“The Biden Administration will not let the Trump standards stand, and either by way of litigation and/or a regulatory reboot, the new team will move in a different, more stringent direction. And they will do so with California integrated in the effort,” Galhotra wrote in the letter, according to the Detroit News.
“Understanding that we all bring our own perspectives to the table, we would like to urge companies to actively consider embracing the California framework. Given the outcome of the election, and the pressing issues that extend beyond fuel economy and the scope of these standards, it would be an enormous value for the industry to be able to pivot quickly and move forward with a single standard.”
In short, get on the right side of this now and let’s make it easier for everyone. Ford taking the lead when it comes to an environmental issue isn’t a novel concept. The company has long touted its green efforts ranging from using recycled plastics in its interiors to planting sunflowers at its headquarters building to reduce maintenance cost, but also provide a wildlife habitat.
Ford isn’t alone in its efforts, GM is using wind and solar power a many of its facilities, but the battle about emissions it’s more complicated — and costly. It also isn’t alone in encouraging a change of heart on this matter.
“We are confident that the Biden Administration, California, and the U.S. auto industry, which supports 10.3 million jobs, can collaboratively find the pathway that will deliver an all-electric future,” said GM chief Mary Barra in a statement last week about the change in policy. “To better foster the necessary dialogue, we are immediately withdrawing from the preemption litigation and inviting other automakers to join us.”
California has been joined by 22 other states and the District of Columbia to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The plaintiffs are asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to block the Trump administration from stripping it of its long-standing authority to set its own fuel-efficiency standards on cars and trucks.
California enjoys an exemption under the 1970 Clean Air Act that allows it to get a federal waiver to set more stringent air pollution standards; the EPA granted the state a waiver to set tailpipe emission standards in 2009 by the Obama administration. The Trump administration moved to revoke that exemption in September 2019.