There's stark new evidence that big automakers are divided over how to navigate White House moves to upend mileage and carbon emissions policies.
Driving the news: GM, Toyota, Fiat-Chrysler and others are now backing the Trump administration's move to yank California's power to impose CO2 rules — and by proxy mileage rules — that exceed federal standards.
- Last night's move to intervene in litigation on the matter splits them from Ford, VW, Honda and BMW — the quartet that struck a deal with California on toughening standards through the mid-2020s.
The intrigue: Axios' Joann Muller points out that where automakers stand largely depends on their future product pipeline and where they think the market is headed.
- Volkswagen is betting heavily on electric vehicles in the wake of its diesel emissions scandal. Ford is aligned with VW.
- Honda is already the industry’s most fuel-efficient carmaker.
- GM, on the other hand, doesn't think California's plan provides enough EV emissions credits to offset the sale of high-margin pickups it needs to finance its bets on future technologies like autonomy.
- Some foreign automakers, especially, are worried about angering Presdient Trump, who is still weighing big tariffs on auto imports that could wreak havoc on their business.
Why it matters: California is the nation's biggest auto market and about a dozen states follow its lead on emissions rules.
- Automakers want to avoid a split national market, but they're at odds over how to get there — and how stringent the single standard should be.
- Plus, transportation is the nation's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
What they're saying: "The automakers that made a previous deal with California may be questioning their actions if Trump wins a second term and successfully revokes California’s ability to set its own standards," Autotrader executive publisher Karl Brauer tells Axios.
- "Ultimately there’s no clear path here, and every manufacturer taking a position on this topic risks being on the losing side when it’s finally resolved," he said.
Catch up fast: Don't forget the backstory to all of this.
- The auto industry started balking a few years ago at stringent Obama-era standards that extend through 2025.
- But they don't like the draft 2018 White House plan to freeze the standards, and instead say there should be some level of annual increases.
What's next: Look out for final EPA and Transportation Department rules to revise the Obama-era standards.
- EPA has hinted that the final version require slight increases.
- But that's extremely unlikely to satisfy California regulators, allied states and environmentalists, so look for this battle to drag on.