As expected for the past few weeks and after months of lobbying from automakers since Donald Trump was elected, the EPA has confirmed that they will review the fuel consumption rules and decide on whether or not to modify them by April 1, 2018.
Trump made the announcement with new EPA Chief Scott Pruitt and a handful of automotive executives, like GM CEO Mary Barra and Ford CEO Mark Fields, who have both being calling for the EPA to walk back to strict rules.
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The standards were set by the Obama administration and the goal is for a fleet average of 54.5 mpg CAFE by 2025, which would require automakers to produce more electric vehicles in their fleet to compensate for popular gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs.
The EPA had to file its midterm review this year and they rushed it to confirm the standards before Trump took over in January. An automaker lobbying group sent a letter to Trump’s transition team just two days after his election to lobby for him to relax the rules.
At the meeting today, Trump said that he is open to relaxing the fuel consumption restrictions if it shows that they could make more “great cars” and “save jobs”.
Mitch Bainwol, President and CEO of the Auto Alliance, was unsurprisingly happy with the direction the administration is going. He said in a statement:
“The Trump Administration has created an opportunity for decision-makers to reach a thoughtful and coordinated outcome predicated on the best and most current data. After all, these decisions impact the more than 7 million Americans dependent on autos for employment, as well as the driving public seeking affordable transportation.”
The new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt added that “these standards are costly for automakers and the American people.”
Also not clear that it would actually have any negative effect on American jobs – maybe even the contrary would happen. The industry is already going electric and the rules are forcing American automakers to invest in electric vehicles to comply. If the rules are relaxed and if they decide not to invest as much, they could fall behind other companies like VW, Tesla and even China-backed automakers who are all currently heavily investing in electrification.
Since they don’t have to take a decision until next year, maybe the potential success of some upcoming electric vehicles, like the Tesla Model 3, will force them to go electric anyway. We will see.
Featured Image: Donald Trump and automotive execs by Emily Stephenson via Twitter