Automakers react to freeze fuel efficiency standards
The Trump administration has overturned the fuel efficiency standards of the Obama era. NPR’s Don Gonyea talks to TV presenter Autoline host John McElroy about how automakers respond.
DON GONYEA, moderator:
This week, the Trump administration officially announced its long-awaited proposal to improve fuel efficiency standards. According to the Obama era regulations, the fuel efficiency standards of new cars should be greatly improved from now to 2025. This new proposal freezes the standard for six years. Now let’s turn to John McElroy, the host of the TV show “Autoline Detroit”.
John, thank you for coming here.
JOHN MCELROY: Thank you, Don.
GONYEA: Environmental organizations are angry and point to an increase in harmful emissions due to these Trump rules. Surprisingly, the auto industry seems to be dissatisfied with these rollbacks, even though they have previously asked for more lenient standards. What happened here? What do car executives say?
MCELROY: Well, what the automotive industry wants to avoid is dark circles that support lower fuel efficiency and emissions standards. They really want some relief from the Obama administration’s goals, but they don’t want the kind of relief that the Trump administration has given them.
GONYEA: What do they want?
MCELROY: Well, like, this is a deal. The Obama administration has set very positive goals, especially from 2022 to 2025, as long as there is a mid-term review. However, once Donald Trump clearly won the election, it was actually in the days when the Obama administration was declining. They announced that they had completed the mid-term review and it was very good. Well, this angered the auto industry, and when Trump was elected, they asked the Trump administration to resume the midterm review.
I think what the auto industry wants is – because none of them can really talk about this standard publicly – to relax the standard a little, or maybe instead of setting the final goal 2025, it might move it back to 2030 so that They will have a little breathing space. This is a bit exaggerated when I say this industry. We saw some car manufacturers, especially General Motors and Ford, very bluntly that they really didn’t want to see this rollback. But, in general, what the industry says is that they will like a little relief, not where they are now.
GONYEA: Why does a car company have different opinions about the next car company?
MCELROY: Very interesting. You know, I will tell you that General Motors told me in the background that they liked their plans to achieve the Obama administration’s fuel economy goals. In fact, they think they have an advantage over other car manufacturers, and if they think they have an advantage, they don’t want to see change. Perhaps, when you enter small car manufacturers that don’t have large resources, they are very worried about meeting these standards. Especially when you are investing in a zero-emissions vehicle in California – it is very difficult for companies that don’t have big money.
GONYEA: Well, let’s talk about California here. You mentioned their own standards, including zero emission standards. But other states can adopt California standards – not just to come up with their own standards, but to adopt California standards. The Trump administration has now cancelled the work. This is good news for car companies. But will this open the door to all kinds of litigation?
MCELROY: Well, of course. They are very worried about this because it will be bound in court. In fact, this is almost certain, which must be decided by the Supreme Court. And nothing is more unpleasant than business uncertainty, because nowadays, it is easy to get billions of dollars in investment in a new car. And, when you see all the new models that must emerge, especially to make them vibrant – billions of dollars are really at risk here – they don’t like to see that uncertainty and don’t know where this is going go with.
GONYEA: John McElroy of “Autoline Detroit”.
Thank you for joining us, John.
MCELROY: Thank you, Don.