With the upcoming inauguration of Donald Trump as President, automakers, or at least the important lobbying groups representing them, see an opportunity to lower the EPA’s fuel emission standards in order to reduce the number of electric cars they have to produce. We reported that an important automaker lobbying group sent a letter to Trump’s transition team just two days after his election claiming that automakers cannot produce zero-emission cars at a competitive price and requesting more lenient requirements.
Now the EPA is rushing to file its midterm review of the standard early in order to put in place the fleet fuel consumption requirement of 54.5 mpg by 2025 before Trump takes over – though the agency claims it’s not what motivated them. While not impossible, it will be much more difficult for Trump’s administration to change the mandate once it’s put in place, and automakers are already expressing concerns.
Established automakers all earn the vast majority of their revenue from gas-guzzling vehicles—most of their profit is from SUVs and pickup trucks. While most of them acknowledge that the future is in electric propulsion, they are also quick to complain when regulations force them to produce electric vehicles in any significant volumes.
Last week, Ford CEO Mark Fields called the EPA’s move “eleventh-hour politics” and said that his company will turn to Trump in order to remedy the situation (via Bloomberg):
“What happened was through eleventh-hour politics, it short-circuited a data-driven development of regulations.”
Fields added that the market for electric vehicles is not growing and argues, like his lobbying group did last month, that they are more expensive. Of course, price reductions are also expected to come with volume production, which would be prompted by the fuel standard Ford is opposing.
A lobbying effort to get Trump to overturn the EPA’s advancement of the fuel consumption requirement could prove successful, but considering it would require rewriting the entire midterm review and could very likely face legal challenges, the administration may also decide to spend its efforts somewhere else.
During his campaign, Trump said that he plans to review all fuel consumption regulations and to place a moratorium on all new regulations. He has since put Myron Ebell, a popular climate change denier and fossil fuel lobbyist, in charge of his EPA transition team.
Automakers opposing the new standards will certainly have an ear in Trump’s administration, but whether it will actually result in lowering the standards remains to be seen.
All those same automakers have announced several new upcoming electric vehicle models to be added to their lineup, but aside from a few exceptions, like Tesla, VW and Daimler, very few are talking about producing those models in volumes, which is what is required to get the average fleet fuel consumption requirement of 54.5 mpg.
You can access the full review here: Midterm Evaluation of Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Standards for Model Years 2022-2025