California has announced that state agencies will no longer buy petrol-powered sedans, and from January 2020 the state will stop purchasing vehicles from car manufacturers that haven’t agreed to follow California’s clean car rules.
General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and multiple other manufacturers that sided with the Trump administration in the ongoing battle over tailpipe pollution rules will be affected by the change. According to data from the California Department of General Services, compiled by Cal Matters, California spent US$74 million on its fleet of passenger vehicles last year. The state’s decision could hit GM particularly hard – in 2018, California spent more than US$27 million on GM-owned Chevrolet vehicles while comparatively, it spent US$3.6 million on vehicles from Toyota and US$3 million on those from Fiat Chrysler.
The Trump administration has long proposed rolling back Obama-era standards curbing greenhouse gases and increasing fuel economy of passenger vehicles. Those rollbacks haven’t yet been finalised, but in September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said they removed California’s authority to make its own greenhouse gas rules, which 13 other states and the District of Columbia follow.
As a result, California and 22 states sued the EPA, after suing the NHTSA in September, arguing the White House unlawfully removed the state’s waiver, which was granted under the Clean Air Act. To fend off the uncertainty of a long fight in court, Ford, Honda, BMW, and Volkswagen made deals with California – the state agreed to relax the Obama-era greenhouse gas targets somewhat, and the manufacturers agreed to follow the state’s rules.