Aug 21, 2019

Big Auto's rupture with Trump

Trump meeting with automaker executives in January 2017. Photo: Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images

Get ready for Mercedes-Benz to join the agreement between California and several big automakers to increase carbon emissions standards — a pact that rebuffs White House plans to freeze the Obama-era CO2 and mileage rules.

The intrigue: Per the Los Angeles Times late Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom confirmed anonymously sourced NYT reporting that Mercedes would join Ford, BMW, Honda and VW in the deal rolled out last month.

  • Mercedes declined to comment yesterday.

Why it matters: It's a sign that the deal is expanding to cover a huge swath of the industry.

  • NYT reports that another automaker — GM, Toyota or Fiat-Chrysler — intends to comply with the stricter rules for at least the next 4 years.
  • Newsom also told reporters that discussions are underway with a 6th major automaker, per LAT.

Wednesday morning, President Trump tweeted:

"My proposal to the politically correct Automobile Companies would lower the average price of a car to consumers by more than $3000, while at the same time making the cars substantially safer. Engines would run smoother. Very little impact on the environment! Foolish executives!"

His response represents an escalation of the rupture between his administration and some of the world’s biggest automakers over his plan to freeze the Obama-era regulations rather than allowing them to grow stricter throughout the mid-2020s.

Quick take on Mercedes per Axios' Joann Muller: Mercedes' apparent decision makes sense because:

  • Mercedes is part of the Daimler group, which has a joint venture with BMW combining their mobility services around electric vehicle charging, ride-hailing and more.
  • The luxury automaker also has a number of EVs in its pipeline.
  • That move toward EVs will enable a break with its past method of complying with mileage rules by purchasing credits, rather than making cleaner cars.

My thought bubble: The pact is the starkest example yet in a wider movement of states, companies and local governments rebuffing or counteracting the White House posture on global warming.

But, but, but: In this case, it's not black and white. Automakers initially backed the White House goal to revisit Obama-era mandates and only later chafed at plans to freeze annual increases next year.

  • As one veteran advocate pointed out to me recently, the agreement with California is written in a way that's "significantly weaker" than the rules issued under former President Obama.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to fewer than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.