A New Twist: California Bans Gov. Purchasing of Most Auto Brands

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
a new twist california bans gov purchasing of most auto brands

Just when you thought the gas war couldn’t get any wilder, California has announced it will ban the purchase of any vehicle manufactured by a company that doesn’t explicitly recognize the state’s ability to set its own emission regulations.

Starting in January, California plans to purchase any-and-all government fleet vehicles from only Ford, Honda, BMW, and Volkswagen Group — companies that backed a voluntary agreement to adhere to the state’s emission rules over the summer. The pact is now the subject of a federal antitrust probe.

Any automaker publicly supporting a single national standard (or having recently expressed support for the Trump administration’s fuel rollback proposal) will be deemed ineligible for fleet consideration. “Car makers that have chosen to be on the wrong side of history will be on the losing end of California’s buying power,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

California also said it would no longer allow state agencies to purchase sedans powered by internal combustion engines, effective immediately. Minor exceptions would be made for some safety vehicles, but the rest will be electrified (or at least hybridized).

Unless you count the handful of BMW i3s Los Angeles purchased for its police department ( which reportedly sit idle) and a bevy of BMW police motorcycles, California doesn’t have much of a history with European products. Automotive News reports that the state purchased $69.2 million in vehicles from Ford and $565,000 from Honda in the three years leading up to 2019.

From Automotive News:

Between 2016 and 2018, California purchased $58.6 million in vehicles from General Motors, $55.8 million from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles $10.6 million from Toyota Motor Corp. and $9 million from Nissan Motor Co .

Last month, GM, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and members of the Global Automakers trade association backed the Trump administration’s effort to bar California from setting tailpipe standards, which are more rigid than Washington’s proposed national standards.

The automakers declined or did not immediately comment on California’s announced ban on purchases of their vehicles.

They’re likely waiting to see what the final rollback proposal looks like, but we’ve all been waiting while California continues amassing strength. Several lawsuits have emerged against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, aimed at maintaining California’s regulatory sovereignty, and the state has allied itself with 13 others that have each agreed to its tailpipe emissions.

[Image: Beach Media/Shutterstock]

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  • Stuki Stuki on Nov 20, 2019

    If I was an idiot who wanted to reduce ICE emissions, I'd ban efficient ICE sedans as well. That way, departments can buy inefficient SUVs instead..... And if I was a scumbag, I'd make up all manners of weird excuses for why taxpayers should pay triple for me to drive a BMW, or a Tesla, instead of a lowest bidder Chevy. Of course, being an idiot and proud of it, I'd also make sure there would be exactly zero competition for pickup trucks, service bodies or any other truck larger than a Ridgeline, by banning anyone else who builds them, from competing with Ford. That way, Ford can charge taxpayers whatever the heck they want. And I can preen around flaunting how big of an idiot I am! To cheers from well indoctrinated, progressive even-bigger-idiots everywhere!

  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Nov 21, 2019

    I support California's ability to set its own CARB standards. I support the notion that a state should be able to have some say in fleet purchasing guidelines (eg, vehicles built in the USA, only certain trim levels, etc.). From the governor's comments though, this is clearly not motivated by the best interests of Californians, it's clearly political and retaliatory in nature. That's where it becomes a bridge too far, in my mind.

  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).