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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

Updated 47 mins ago - Economy & Business

Hybrid work now dominates the knowledge economy

llustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, most knowledge workers are in hybrid work arrangements, partly remote and partly in-office, a new survey finds.

By the numbers: 58% said they now work this way, in a survey of around 10,000 knowledge workers from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan, conducted last November by Future Forum, a research group backed by Slack.

Rents hit all-time high

Data: Zumper; Chart: Axios Visuals

The national median price of a one-bedroom rental apartment in January was up 12% year-over-year, to $1,374 — an all-time high, per Zumper, an online apartment rental site.

Why it matters: Inflation is taking a bigger bite out of people's paychecks these days not only in food and gasoline, but also in housing costs.

A pandemic victim: Ethical supply chains

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Over the last decade, global companies have put in place elaborate policies to ensure their suppliers protect worker safety and human rights. They're struggling to comply with those policies in the pandemic.

Driving the news: COVID-era disruptions have caused a spike in noncompliance with health and safety rules, according to new data from Qima, which audits supply chains.

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