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

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • 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.

  • Wjtinfwb I'd like to see a Ford/Mazda relationship restarted. Both companies have some car guys keeping the flame alive and could develop a sports car slightly bigger than a Miata and pick and choose from each other's parts bin to put together some attractive powertrain combo's. Even a Mazda 3 AWD with the 300HP EcoBoost 2.3L, manual and AWD from the Focus RS would be welcome. Even better, a factory Miata V8 with the 480 HP Coyote (i know it wont fit...) and a manual gearbox. And how about a CX-5 with a 2.7L EcoBoost V6 with AWD and an chassis tuned for sport. Lots of possibilities.
  • Blueice Patient 28, sorry, but it is Oktoberfest. Bring a kegof Kraut beer and we will 50% you.
  • Bd2 Probably Toyota, Hyundai is killing them these days.
  • Bd2 Japan is evil, stop buying their vehicles. I hope TTAC has a holiday for PEARL HARBOR.
  • Wolfwagen If Isuzu could update this truck and keep the cost between $25K - $30K they would sell like ice pops on dollar day in a heat wave.
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