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Four Big Manufacturers Back Trump On California Emissions Challenge

According to Reuters, major car manufacturers are siding with the Trump administration in its bid to bar California from setting its own fuel efficiency rules or zero-emission requirements for vehicles in the United States, the companies said in a filing with a US appeals court.

The move by General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai and Fiat Chrysler follows legal challenges by California, 22 other states, and various environmental groups in September. Those challenges aim to undo the Trump administration’s determination, issued in September, that federal law bars California from setting its own tailpipe emission standards and zero-emission vehicle mandates. The group backing Trump also includes Mazda, Nissan, Kia and Subaru, along with seven US states including Alabama, Ohio, Texas, Utah and West Virginia, which argue that without the rule, their residents would have to pay “higher vehicle costs.”

In their filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the manufacturers and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) said they backed the administration bid to bar individual emissions rules by states. They asked to intervene, arguing the administration’s rule provided “vehicle manufacturers with the certainty that states cannot interfere with federal fuel economy standards”.

A spokeswoman for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the action “doesn’t change our resolve to fight as long and hard as necessary to protect our standards. The courts have upheld our authority to set standards before and we’re hopeful they will yet again.”

Other car companies – BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen – which announced a voluntary deal with California in July on emissions rules, are not joining the bid to intervene on the administration’s side.

John Bozzella, President and Chief Executive of Global Automakers, a trade group representing major car companies, said those companies had little choice but to back the administration. “It’s been the federal policy for the better part of 40 years that the federal government has the sole responsibility for regulating fuel economy standards, but it doesn’t have to get to that,” Bozzella told reporters, speaking for an ad-hoc group, the Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation.

“We can still reach an agreement” on fuel economy rules, Bozzella said, adding that companies still support a “middle ground” between California and the administration that would see rising attainable fuel efficiency requirements.

The Obama-era rules adopted in 2012 called for a fleetwide fuel efficiency average of 46.7 miles per gallon by 2026, with average annual increases of nearly five per cent, compared with 37 MPG by 2026 under the Trump administration’s preferred option.

After the four manufacturers, including BMW, announced the voluntary California pact, the Justice Department warned them the agreement “may violate federal antitrust laws,” according to documents seen by Reuters.