California Stops Buying From Carmakers That Backed Trump on Emissions

GM, Toyota to feel the pain as California refuses to buy their cars
By Alan McDonnell
Alan McDonnell
Alan McDonnell
November 19, 2019 Updated: November 19, 2019

The State of California has said that it will cease purchasing new vehicles for state fleets from GM, Toyota, Nissan, Fiat-Chrysler, and other members of the Global Automakers trade body, which has supported the Trump Administration in the battle over regulating car emissions and fuel efficiency.

According to a statement, the California Department of General Services will also “prohibit purchasing by state agencies of any sedans solely powered by an internal combustion engine.”

The move is likely to hit the car-makers hard. From 2016 to 2018, California acquired fleet vehicles to the tune of $58.6 million from General Motors, $55.8 million from Fiat Chrysler, $10.6 million from Toyota, and $9 million from Nissan. However, the move could be a boon for Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW, who have agreed to adhere to the Californian framework. California has already invested in some $69.2 million worth of Ford vehicles over the same period—a figure that could increase substantially.

Epoch Times Photo
In this file photo, engines are assembled at the General Motors plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., on Aug. 22, 2019. (Harrison McClary/Reuters)

President Donald Trump has sought to prevent California and 13 copycat states from setting their own emission standards, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) instead proposing a single set of more lenient proposals—a move the Administration states will make the Nation’s air cleaner and its roads safer. The White House has said that less stringent standards made uniform across the United States would make new cars considerably more affordable, thus stimulating both consumer demand and associated American industries. Replacing older cars more quickly would also likely see a reduction in deaths and serious injuries from traffic accidents as the stock of vehicles on the road benefits from modern technologies.

Global Automakers is a trade association that sees GM, Toyota, Fiat-Chrysler, and Nissan join forces with Hyundai, Kia, and Subaru, as well as industry suppliers and more iconic car brands such as Aston Martin and Ferrari. The group came out in support of the Trump Administration’s plans in September.

A spokesperson for GM, Jeannine Ginivan, said that the company was disappointed in the decision. “Removing vehicles like the Chevy Bolt and prohibiting GM and other manufacturers from consideration will reduce California’s choices for affordable, American-made electric vehicles, and limit its ability to reach its goal of minimizing the state government’s carbon footprint, a goal that GM shares,” she said.

However, California Governor Gavin Newsom blamed the companies involved. “Carmakers that have chosen to be on the wrong side of history will be on the losing end of California’s buying power,” he said.

In a statement, California Air Resources Board Chairperson Mary D. Nichols said she wants the president to reconsider. “If the White House does not agree,” she said, “we will move forward with our current standards but work with individual carmakers to implement these principles. At the same time, if the current federal vehicle standards proposal is finalized, we will continue to enforce our regulations and pursue legal challenges to the federal rule.”

Last Friday, California joined 22 other states in challenging the Trump administration’s decision to revoke California’s authority to set its own vehicle emissions rules.

It is expected that the Trump administration will publish its final requirements in the coming months. These are likely to include hikes in fuel efficiency and emissions that do not exceed Californian standards.

A statement from the Global Automakers supported finding a common solution. “A balanced fuel economy regulation is critical for the health of the U.S. auto industry. Throughout the rulemaking process, Global Automakers has called for a unified national standard that continues the industry’s significant progress in improving motor vehicle fuel economy, and that rewards investments in next-generation fuel-savings technologies. We are reviewing the Administration’s announcement, and look forward to seeing the subsequent rule-setting standards for model years 2021 through 2026 when they are finalized.”

Reuters contributed to this article.

Alan McDonnell
Alan McDonnell