The Battle To Outperform Each Other On Environmentalism Is Well Underway For Automakers

Illustration for article titled The Battle To Outperform Each Other On Environmentalism Is Well Underway For Automakers

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Last week, GM announced that it was jumping ship on Trump and the Trump administration’s emissions regulations policy, which GM had supported until nearly the minute it became clear that Joe Biden would be the next president of the United States. GM urged other automakers to follow its lead; not long after Ford urged the same thing.


Reuters has the scoop, which comes in the form of a letter sent last week by Ford Americas President Kumar Galhotra. The letter, sent to other automakers but seen by Reuters today, was sent a couple of days after GM made its dramatic announcement.

In a previously unreported letter, Ford Americas President Kumar Galhotra on Wednesday said with Biden’s win, the fight over Trump’s effort to preempt California on vehicle emissions “is now, at least for the next set of years, essentially moot. The more relevant issue is thus the question of the standards.”

Galhotra urged automakers “to actively consider embracing the California framework.”

He added: “The Biden Administration will not let the Trump standards stand, and either by way of litigation and/or a regulatory reboot, the new team will move in a different, more stringent direction.”


It’s probably not an accident that the letter eventually found its way to a Reuters reporter, since Ford has all the incentive in the world to push itself as an eco-friendly car company, as it did in advertising earlier this year, specifically shaming automakers like GM, Fiat Chrysler, and Toyota for not siding with California in the emissions dispute.

And while it was admirable for Ford to make a deal with California before the election — along with BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo, and Honda — now that Biden’s been elected the math has changed a little bit, since the deal those companies cut with California includes emissions standards that are weaker than the Obama-era emissions standards that the Trump administration is trying to undo. It seems like, if anything, however, that the Biden administration will seek to not only reinstate the Obama-era rules but also possibly strengthen them, meaning the choice to go with the California deal would be a no-brainer for automakers if they could lock it in long-term, possibly by coalescing around it and convincing the Biden administration that they had solved this whole car emissions regulations thing.

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And while the automakers might try to sell that as their own effort to go green, it’s not really, since we know that probably isn’t enough and companies complying with government regulations isn’t an achievement. It’s literally the least automakers can do.

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