The Waiting Game: List of Automakers Standing in Line for EPA Approval Grows

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
the waiting game list of automakers standing in line for epa approval grows

As previously reported, vehicle certifications have been suspended during the current government shutdown. While this is normally a non-issue, the extended length of this federal deferment is starting to spook automakers.

Fiat Chrysler has already bemoaned the situation, as it’s currently waiting for the Environmental Protection Agency to approve its Ram Heavy Duty pickups. While the situation hasn’t become truly dire, other automakers have begun expressing concerns of their own.

According to Automotive News, Jim Farley, Ford’s head of global markets, said the automaker has a number of important products coming down the pipe this year. That includes highly profitable models like the redesigned 2020 Explorer and Escape, as well as the all-new Lincoln Aviator.

“We’re all waiting in lines,” Farley said at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit this week. “Every new vehicle has to get certified through the government. If that gets backed up, so do the launches.”

“Thankfully, ours are positioned more in the spring and summer,” he continued. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. If this continues … who knows?”

General Motors similarly confirmed it was “among the automakers that are awaiting decisions in the certification process” on Wednesday. How many models are being affected are unknown but the company said business operations had not yet been impacted by the prolonged government shutdown.

From Automotive News:

The EPA every year doles out about 1,200 certificates of compliance proving that cars and trucks meet federal emissions standards, according to Jeff Alson, a former senior engineer and policy adviser who retired from EPA last spring. Automakers test their own vehicles, then submit the data to the EPA for review. The EPA targets new models and randomly selects about 200 vehicles for verification testing at its engine laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Even vehicles that aren’t physically tested by EPA will be delayed from going on sale, Alson said, because the EPA has to review each data submission, prepare a certification and deliver it to the companies. During the shutdown, there are no technical personnel to process those applications.

As things stand, the delays shouldn’t impact any automaker’s bottom line in a severe way. However, that could change if the shutdown continues for another month. It would be unheard of, but we’ve already broken the old record and neither the Republicans or Democrats look ready to cave in and help to get the show back on the road.

Of course, if the government shutdown lasts until spring or summer, delayed automobile launches will probably be pretty low on our list of worries as a nation.

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2 of 25 comments
  • Teddyc73 Teddyc73 on Jan 20, 2019

    "delayed automobile launches will probably be pretty low on our list of worries as a nation." Actually we are doing just find with the government shut down. It's actually a good thing.

  • Teddyc73 Teddyc73 on Jan 20, 2019

    Big Daddy Government has to approve our cars. Just disband the EPA already.

  • Bobbysirhan The Pulitzer Center that collaborated with PBS in 'reporting' this story is behind the 1619 Project.
  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.
  • Hunter Ah California. They've been praying for water for years, and now that it's here they don't know what to do with it.
  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.