Four automakers that together represent about a third of the U.S. market have agreed to California’s fuel economy and emission standards, committing to produce more efficient and cleaner vehicles over the next seven years than the Trump administration would require.
The move by Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America defies the Trump administration’s attempt to freeze and rollback Obama-era standards that it claims would make many vehicles too expensive.
“What we have here is a statement of principles intended to reach out to the federal government to move them off the track that they seem to be on and onto a more constructive track,” said Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resource Board. She said the four companies approached her agency in June to discuss a potential compromise.
Last August, the Trump administration announced its intention to strip California of its legal right to impose its own emission standards or mandate that automakers sell more electric vehicles.
Under Trump, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration want to freeze fuel economy standards at the current 37 mile-per-gallon fleet average target for 2020 through 2026.
The Obama administration in 2012 set a fleet average goal of 51 miles-per-gallon by 2026 although that number could be adjusted based on the mix of vehicles an automaker sold.
Under the agreement with California, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW pledge to improve their fleet averages by 3.7% each year, or slightly less than the standards set under the Obama administration.