By on February 2, 2021

The Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation (CSAR) is officially withdrawing from a lawsuit between California and federal authorities over the coastal state’s ability to establish its own emissions standards. California leadership had vowed to ignore the Trump administration’s proposed rollback and began making binding side deals with automakers (specifically BMW, Ford, Volkswagen, Volvo, and Honda) committed to adhering to the aggressive limits established under President Obama. Unfortunately, this ran the risk of undermining the revised national standards penned shortly after the United States became energy independent. It also set up the CSAR to embrace any entity that had views conflicting with California Air Resources Board.

Federal concerns were that the Golden State setting its own targets would butt heads with the relaxed national benchmarks and ultimately divide the U.S. market and may even influence the types of vehicles that were manufactured for all of North America. But the issue became moot once President Biden broke the record for executive orders by signing 22 in his first week. Predictably, the brunt of these were designed to instantly undo any actions taken throughout the duration of the Trump administration and included one directing the Department of Transportation and EPA to reconsider the 2019 decision to remove California’s authority to limit tailpipe emissions by April and revise the fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles by summer.

Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, General Motors dropped out of the lawsuit after backing the Trump administration shortly after the U.S. election. “We believe the ambitious electrification goals of the President-elect [Biden], California, and General Motors are aligned, to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a November letter addressed to various environmental groups.

It wasn’t long before Toyota, which had also joined the Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation — along with Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and the National Automobile Dealers Association — said it was similarly “reconsidering” its position.

Meanwhile, companies backing California (especially Ford) suggested opponents should change their minds. Before long, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) — which represents many of the world’s largest automotive conglomerates and tech firms — issued similar messaging that members should support the Biden-Harris energy plan. It even vowed to work with the administration on establishing a revised nationwide program that utilizes California in addition to reaching net-zero carbon production from automobiles and transitioning the whole nation toward electric vehicles.

They appear to have taken its advice to heart, too. On Tuesday, the Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation announced that it had realigned itself with the new administration much in the same way GM had in November.

From CSAR:

The Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation (CSAR) chose to intervene in a lawsuit between California and the federal government to support a unified fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) program. We are aligned with the Biden Administration’s goals to achieve year-over-year improvements in fuel economy standards that provide meaningful climate and national energy security benefits, reduce GHG emissions and promote advanced technologies. In a gesture of good faith and to find a constructive path forward, the CSAR has decided to withdraw from this lawsuit in order to unify the auto industry behind a single national program, with ambitious, achievable standards.

We don’t anticipate hearing much more from the Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation and presume any future announcements to closely resemble messaging from the Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

[Image: Marc Bruxelle/Shutterstock]

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40 Comments on “California Wins the Gas War, Fickle Automotive Coalition Realigns Position...”

  • avatar

    I’ll start the popcorn.

  • avatar

    Total victory for CARB. Mary Nichols should hold a press conference where she eats Ralph Gilles’s heart.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      I can see the twitter headlines now: “This is what environmental justice looks like.”

      • 0 avatar

        CARB: “This is what environmental tyranny looks like”.

        • 0 avatar

          “Tyranny” is a hyperbolic exaggeration. (It gets the ol’ blood pressure up, though.)
          Pollution is unlimited without regulation. Living in the LA basin in the late 60’s was unbelievably bad, and would be many times worse now, given the increase in population. Burning rivers and dying Great Lakes are now a thing of the past.
          Regulation is required when greed outweighs common sense, which is almost always.

          • 0 avatar

            Do you consider this common sense regulation?


            I’m also certain you know the difference between smog-forming emissions, greenhouse gases, and industrial waste even though you seem to be conflating all three here.

          • 0 avatar

            Truth. Inarguable. But why is the answer ALWAYS “more” when the question is “how much government regulation do we need”.

          • 0 avatar

            CARB did a nice job with its original purpose, which was necessary at the time. I remember Bob Barker talking about the cars contestants could win having “California emissions” and maybe that still needs to be a thing. Today though they are bullies and bullies need to be stood up too. However today in Amerika, we don’t seem to do that anymore.

      • 0 avatar

        Matt Posky,

        ‘“This is what environmental justice looks like.”’

        This will cost us and make some rich people richer. Whether that is justice or not kinda depends on your perspective (like, whether you’re one of those rich people or one of us deplorables).

  • avatar

    GM: And I for one welcome our new insect overlords.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    When 1 of 8 Americans live in California, this was the inevitable outcome.

    The actual limits aren’t as important as having a unified standard. The four-year war on this issue served nobody well.

  • avatar

    If BEVs truly are the future, this whole issue is increasingly moot.

    • 0 avatar

      They will make up some BS and end up controlling that too. Because unchecked government grows like a cancer.

    • 0 avatar


      “Arguing against actual Democrats is hard, which is why rage-radio likes to argue against the strawmen.”

      That’s a good one. I assume you got that from some media source. Probably one of the ones that keeps stridently screaming, “conspiracy theory, fake news, misinformation..!” When I was in elementary school we did the same thing except it was, “did too, did not, did too…”

      Arguing against what actual democrats are doing is extremely easy. Oh, yes, I never listen to that idiot ranting political junk on the radio from either side of the aisle.

  • avatar

    US won the Cold War with SU and proved that open democratic society is superior to totalitarian communist regimes in Eastern Europe.

    But that was 30 years ago. Today we see that China won the ideological war with US. Chinese orderly quasi-capitalist one party regime with dictator for life as a president proved to be superior to open but weak ‘service economy” and America accepted the defeat and started transition to the one party quasi-capitalist regime similar to Chinese. China is over-producing US, has a better, newer and state of art infrastructure. The PLA is poised to catch up technologically and overtake the expensive and poorly managed US army which is mired in endless conflict around globe. China will colonize moon ahead of US and will take over precious resources on the moon.

    In other words PCC decided to make ICE vehicles illegal in China in ten years and US has no choice but to follow if wants to remain relevant. What California wants does not matter anymore. What matters what China does next.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup. Luckily tRump failed at dictator for life.

      He was too stupid to get past dick. The only tater’s were from McDonald’s.

      • 0 avatar

        where is it documented that he tried to be dictator? No place except in your pinhead. When your goal was not X then you cannot fail at X.
        Failure is your realm proven by making the statement.
        Dictators rule by issuing orders without the voice of the people being heard and by ignoring a country’s constitution.You will enjoy the next 4 years only because they will tell you.
        You never even glanced at The Federalist Papers it is obvious, you should try it and get someone to read it to you.

      • 0 avatar

        Uncle Jay may be it – he may be gone to a better place any day now and he behaves like dictator. My Grandma behaved the same way but she was an old angry communist.

        • 0 avatar

          By Uncle Jay you don’t mean J. “Executive Order” B. Why, just because he is issuing a flurry of orders ex cathedra, doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe in democracy. He’s doing all of that to rid us of the dreaded disorder TrUmPism (Do you think they will ever realize that tRuMp is not president anymore so they can stop obsessing about him?). It’s for our own good (one of the deadliest phrases ever).

          • 0 avatar

            In Russia that person is known as a “Milk Bidon” or simply Bidon. That way we are able to circumvent harsh American Free Speech on sites like Youtube. Another example of novo-speak is “the most honest election in the history of Solar System”

  • avatar

    One nation, One national emissions standard.
    Revoke California exemption to set emissions standards.

  • avatar

    Should one buy a very good car now, take good care of it, and keep it for 20 years until manufacturers master the technology required to meet new emissions and fuel efficiency regulations? That was the situation in the late 1960s when the first emissions regulations were imposed. It was something like 15 years before engines ran well again.

    • 0 avatar

      That is one of the primary reasons we chose the GX460. Simple, proven tech. I got burned by direct injection in the Honda Fit. Multiple carbon buildup issues that would never had happened with port injection. It’s the reason we don’t drive or 20 year old diesel truck during salt season in NY. Trying to make it last for as long as we can. The new diesels are crazy expensive to buy, less reliable, and insanely expensive to fix. They are much more powerful than my trusty 7.3 but it has all the power I need.

    • 0 avatar

      Well said Kendahl.

      Also, as in the late 1960s, the “affordability” of a new vehicle is about to start dropping significantly.

      In the 1970s it was mostly inflation, and to a much lesser degree regulatory costs (5-mph bumpers, emissions).

      Trillions in deficits yesterday, today, and tomorrow…. either depreciate the dollars, tax people (take away their money) or cut their benefits (take away their money).

      Whether it comes in the form of price inflation, or financial controls (much easier in the era of computers), for vast majority of the upper middle class (that’s who buys new vehicles today), they will have to work more hours to acquire that new vehicle.

      Also, anti-ICE edicts may constrain the supply of gasoline/diesel vehicles further, making them even more costly.

      As a teen in the late 1970s/early 1980s, I remember thinking, “if only I was 10 years older, I could get a new 240Z for only $3500 or a Capri for $2500, vs $7,000 or $5,000 now. And the old cars ran better”. Several of my parents peers complained about paying more for less and would reminisce about their “good old” 1960s car… it ran a lot better. A few of them kept the 1960s cars well into the 1980s to avoid that.

      Yes, batteries are getting better. But will they get better and cheaper fast enough? Or will uncle sam chip in $10-20k for the “woke” so their new electric car will cost them “only” 35-40k?

      Perhaps I’m wrong, and electric cars will work out such the the real cost (how many hours I must work in order to buy and operate a vehicle) might not be as bad as I think. But I think I am correct, and transport will become more expensive. In such a case, in a spread out society, where vehicles are necessary, that does not bode well.

      Perhaps people already sense that, and that may be sustaining car sales.

  • avatar

    “Should one buy a very good car now…”

    Proposed QOTD: What would be a “very good car” to buy now, if one bought into this line of thinking?

    [Edit: Arghh bad aim. (I love it when I’m wrong.)]

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    CARB is easy to bash unless you grew up in Southern California. I’m not for government overreach, but my first hand knowledge and observation call tell you that CARB did a whole lot of good. Growing up in the 60’s in Southern California there were about 20 million people in the state. I used to visit my Grandma in the San Gabriel Valley-with the San Gabriel Mountains all but invisible to the naked eye-less than twenty miles away as the crow flies. Playing on the black top at school or at my Grandparents house my throat used to ache and my eyes would water-all due to very thick smog. Fast forward 50 years later-the state has 40 million residents ( and more motor vehicles than any other state) and the air is cleaner than it’s ever been-mostly due to CARB regulation. So yes-there can upsides to regulation. I have since moved and retired 9 years ago.

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