Carmakers' Blowback on CA CO2 MPG Regs Nothing But a Gentle Breeze

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
carmakers blowback on ca co2 mpg regs nothing but a gentle breeze

Now that President Barack Obama has decided to let California raise America’s fleet-wide fuel economy regs to something like a 42mpg average, the automakers are howling with righteous idignation. Not. How could they? Not only would that be impolite to the incoming adminstration, environmentalists, the Democratic party and mother Earth, but GM and Chrysler are now more-or-less owned by the same federal government that just told CA to go for it. The New York Times dusted off ye olde “greedy American automakers are dragging their heels over higher mpg vehicles” template, but really, their heart just isn’t in it. But you’ve gotta give the Gray Lady credit for digging up a least one hysterical Neanderthal. Yes, it’s our old pal David E. Cole, whose Center for Automotive Research (CAR, geddit?) created the widely-quoted and entirely specious study that justified the Motown bailout buffet in the first place (if they go down, 42b workers will hit the soup lines). You can guess what David said, but it’s still fun to read. And wait ’til you don’t hear what Detroit doesn’t say…

“The California regulations, if enacted today, “would basically kill the industry,” the GM scion told the NYT. “It would have a devastating effect on everybody, and not just the domestics.”

Trump that! Again, kudos to scribe Nick Bunkley for doing just that. But first he forwards the argument on the automakers’ behalf—a lazy non-attribution if ever there wasn’t one—that they believe the CA regs would force them to dump the lion’s share of their fleet (such as “once popular pickups”) and build cars like… you know it’s coming… the Toyota Prius. Anyway, the quote:

“I want clean air and clean water just like the next guy,” said Erich Merkle, an independent automotive analyst in Grand Rapids, Mich. “But in the real world, there would be consumer outrage with the fact that they’re limited to maybe two vehicles and there’s nothing there that would meet their family’s needs.”

Two vehicles? What is this? Communist Russia? Getting there. Meanwhile, The People’s Car Company (GM), who would normally be screaming bloody murder at the CA regs, made a token attempt at fighting The Governator’s new fiat (no caps).

“G.M., the only Detroit automaker to issue its own response Monday, said it was ‘working aggressively on the products and the advance technologies that match the nation’s and consumers’ priorities to save energy and reduce emissions.’ But the company also emphasized the need for ‘a comprehensive policy discussion that takes into account the development pace of new technologies, alternative fuels and market and economic factors.'”

And to end our little trip to The Brave New World of “In America, the globe warms you,” we turn to the pathetic—I mean, prophetic—Mr. Cole, who agrees with Ken Elias’ thesis that Uncle Sugar will make it right.

“Mr. Cole, the Center for Automotive research chairman, said he believed Congress would ensure Detroit would be able to live with any new standards.”


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2 of 25 comments
  • Eric Bryant Eric Bryant on Jan 30, 2009

    Robert, Erich Merkle is no longer with IRN, so you might want to remove the hyperlink that insinuates that the relationship still exists.

  • Boston Boston on Jan 31, 2009

    Erich is a super good guy with a bunch of kids in Michigan. He didn't mean consumers, he meant himself. He doesn't want to lose his precious minivan. And no, he doesn't work at that other place anymore which I will not mention because they are a joke. Anyways, I would like to see some details about the plan. In particular, does the fleet have to average 42, or is that the minimum that will allow the sale of a particular vehicle? Also, are we talking highway, city, or mixed. That makes a huge difference with hybrids. It seems like most people here realize that a gas tax is the right way to approach this. With the 42 mandate, automakers will have to develop that technology, but won't get much of a payoff until after the mandate takes effect. If gas taxes were raised, the automakers could at least sell some of the new technology to finance future development.

  • Alan My friend has a Toyota Kluger (made in 'murica). A Highlander. These things are based on a Camry platform. I have driven the Kluger we had at work and I find them quite boring even for a SUV. An appliance. I hope this will deliver some driving pleasure. I found the Camry a better boring vehicle.
  • Alan Most Lexii look good to reasonable.....................until you see the front ends with their awkward grilles. It actually would look normal on a GWM, LDV or any other Chinese vehicle.
  • Tassos These last months, every day seems to be another great, consequential piece of news for Tesla, who does not just DOMINATE, it OWNS the US and FREE WORLD BEV market.It is the ONLY (repeat ONLY) maker that builds its huge best sellers at a PROFIT, ie, SUSTAINABLY. FOrd EV is bleeding 3 billion in losses. GM hides theirs, and I bet they are even HIGHER. VW has spent a huge no of billions and its ID series has been an UTTER FAILURE.Toyota, already 12 years too late, is yet to try. I doubt they will succeed to dethrone TESLA.
  • Tassos Again: I never took VOlvo seriously in the last 20 or so years.Chinese Volvo-Geely has a dizzying number of models, I have lost count how many,YET its sales and market share in the US has always been DISMAL these last 20 years.It ranges from a pathetic 0.5% to 0.8% of the US market.For comparison, Toyota has 15% and GM has even more. Tesla has almost 10 TIMES VOlvo's share, with a PITTANCE of really TWO Models, the 3 and the Y, as the S and the X hardly sell any copies any more.So why do we keep reading articles about Stupid VOlvo?Because they have the best PR department of any maker.
  • Jdt65724922 How can a Chrysler E-Class ride better than a Chrysler Fifth Avenue?