Bloomberg is reporting that House Republicans, led by California Congressman Darrell Issa, are set to produce a report that heavily criticizes CAFE as a politicized move designed to curry favor with bailed out auto makers and environmental groups.
Issa called CAFE
“a raw political process designed to appease environmental extremists…The impact of this process will not be immediate but will be felt by manufacturers forced to make, dealers forced to sell, and consumers forced to purchase far different, more expensive and less safe vehicles,”
Singled out in particular by Issa were the influence exerted by California (which can write its own rules if it is unsatisfied with the federal government’s own rules) and environmental groups. The Detroit News reports that Toyota, along with other foreign automakers, were unhappy with the deal, and they perceived favoritism towards the home team.
Automotive News, quoting the paper, recounts how Toyota Motor Sales U.S. head Jim Lentz told Ron Bloom, then the White House chief negotiator, how Toyota felt.
“Japan is angry. Feel like they have been screwed,” according to handwritten notes from Toyota, the News reported today. The paper said Toyota wanted credits for hybrid vehicles — similar to credits that were extended to natural gas, flex-fuel and electric vehicles — and wanted more flexibility to use car credits for meeting truck standards.”
Another sticking point for Toyota was the slippery definition of what exactly constitutes a truck. The Big Three had been using this as a way to shift vehicles, like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, into the “truck” column to help bring down their fuel economy averages on the truck side.
Toyota also argued that the definition of a full-sized pickup truck — a stronghold of Detroit automakers for years — had been written to exclude the Toyota Tundra. Lentz said the deal was an “old Detroit tactic. It may hurt me, but it hurts my competitors more,” Toyota’s notes said, the News reported. But the White House was eager for Toyota to support the deal. “It looks bad for me and bad for you if Toyota is not there,” Bloom told Lentz at one point during the process, the News reported.