In a time where a surprising number of major automakers are announcing that they believe electric cars are the future of the auto industry, we are still seeing them complaining about, and in some cases lobbying against, the fuel emission standards.
Now trade groups representing virtually the entire auto industry are again putting pressure on U.S. regulators to weaken rules that would force them to produce more electric cars.
In comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) via Reuters, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Global Automakers argued again against the doubling of their fleetwide average fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by 2025 in the US.
Due to the credit system put in place, it would actually result only in a real-world average of 36 mpg, according to the EPA.
The automakers have agreed to the standard, which would force them to produce more fuel-efficient cars and electric vehicles, back in 2012, but they launched a renewed effort to change the rules since the election of Donald Trump as President and the appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA.
The automaker lobbying groups sent a letter to Trump’s transition team just two days after his election to lobby for him to relax the rules.
Now they again claim that consumers don’t want more fuel-efficient vehicles. The Global Automakers group, which represents Nissan, Toyota, Hyundai and many other automakers, wrote in the comments to the EPA:
““There is, simply put, a misalignment between the increasing stringency of the standards and the decreasing consumer demand for fuel efficiency,”
Yet, the group claims to “support and are aggressively pursuing innovative ways to reduce CO2 emissions to protect the environment […].” The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents, GM , Ford, Daimler, and many other automakers, had similar claims while lobbying for the EPA to relax the rules.
The EPA will continue to take comments and it should take a decision on changing the fuel consumption requirements early next year.
What is most amusing, or maybe disturbing, is that several of the automakers hiding behind those trade groups claim to be all-in on electric cars and yet, they support, through those groups, lobbying against rules that would accelerate the deployment of electric cars.
Look, I understand the argument that no business likes to be regulated and that even if they believe in electric cars, you should let the free market decide if or when they should deploy more EVs.
The problem with that approach is that it assumes that the industry cannot or is not manipulating the market, which is false.
It happened before. California introduced more stringent fuel consumption rules in the 90s and automakers came out with a few electric cars. After poorly marketing them, and some of them simply resulting in weak vehicle programs, the industry blamed consumer demand and successfully lobbied for the standards to be relaxed.
Can we let them do the same at the federal level and hope that it doesn’t have the same results?
GM announced just last week that they “believe in an all-electric future.” Yet, they, along with virtually the entire auto industry, are financing those trade groups lobbying to delay this “all-electric future.” Can we afford any delay with air pollution being linked to millions of death every year?