A slew of automakers are scheduled for a Thursday meeting with the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation to go over existing Obama-era efficiency rules. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will both be on hand to discuss — and likely reassure — manufacturers on the future of the guidelines.
In March, President Donald Trump ordered an extensive review of U.S. light vehicle fuel-efficiency standards for the 2022-2025 time frame, despite the Obama administration locking them in well ahead of the midterm review’s April 2018 deadline. The decision was rushed to maintain the administration’s climate change policy and avoid any tampering from incoming Trump appointees. While there remains much to be done before the standing emission limits can be rolled back, wheels are now in motion.
After a Wednesday announcement stating it had failed to cut fleet emissions for the first time since 2007, Daimler has promised to expand its electric vehicle program and shorten the timeline. However, the automaker isn’t willing to shoulder all the blame for not being green enough. Consumer trends have shifted strongly toward larger, less efficient crossovers and SUVs in recent years. Daimler knows this better than anyone with global sales of the Mercedes-Benz GLA, GLC, and GLE gradually replacing its more-stagnant sedan deliveries.
Still, Europe has set very specific emissions requirements and the German company has fallen behind. It’s time to make amends by publicly promising new electrified models and a corporate goal closer to the state-sponsored pollution target.
Donald Trump said Wednesday his administration will reopen a review of the current auto emissions directives passed in the final throes of the Obama presidency. This is cause for celebration for automakers, who’ve practically begged the president to repeal the mandates on grounds that the goals are far too uncompromising and ill-suited for the present-day market.
Speaking at the American Center for Mobility, President Trump promised to bring more manufacturing back into the United States and continue to bring down regulatory barriers so that automakers can continue to thrive.
“We’re going to work on the CAFE standards so you can make cars in America again,” Trump said. “There is no more beautiful sight than an American-made car.”
Clearly, the president has either never seen an Aston Martin or is trying to make a point about the importance of domestic product.
The prevailing narrative seems to be that the United States lags behind Europe in addressing issues like fuel economy and emissions. U.S. regulatory standards are seen as not as rigorous as those used in the European Union. Cars sold in the European market get better gas/diesel mileage and put out less supposedly harmful carbon dioxide and other products of combustion. Now, the Economist is reporting that an environmental group is claiming that the Euro standards are a bit of a sham because the system in Europe allows automakers to game the testing procedures, resulting in poorer real-world performance than that indicated by testing.
Though the European Environment Agency proclaimed new cars sold throughout the European Union in 2013 as being 4 percent cleaner than those sold in 2012, an environmentalist group says testing loopholes are the cause behind the results.
After months of intense lobbying, Germany has convinced European Union environmental ministers to keep 2020 new car carbon dioxide emissions standards at 130 grams per kilometer instead of the proposed, stricter 95g/km standard. The German government argued that the tighter regulations would cost jobs and hurt German automakers. BMW and Mercedes-Benz produce larger and heavier cars than other European car companies like Fiat and Renault and they would have a more difficult experience trying to meet the new CO2 standards.