By on March 6, 2019

The Trump administration has long been at odds with California and a coalition of supportive states that hope to block the rollback of Obama-era fueling regulations the current Environmental Protection Agency deems “unsustainable.” The EPA also says it’s inconsistent with consumer behavior. But automakers have behaved somewhat erratically on the matter, forcing the president to request (by proxy) that they make up their minds and pick a side before a final decision is made.

While industry leaders previously backed the more stringent regulatory framework set in place by the former president, they quickly converged on Washington after Trump assumed office in 2017, requesting a softening of Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. After blowback from California and environmental activists, automakers took a more measured approach, publicly stating that they support green initiatives and reducing their own carbon footprint — and suggesting that a national deal be reached that pleases all parties.

Fence-sitting time might be over.
(Read More…)

By on February 11, 2019

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles paid $77 million in U.S. civil penalties late last year due to its failure to adhere to 2016 model year fuel economy requirements. In December, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a report claiming the industry faced millions in fines from 2016 and that one manufacturer was expected to pay significant civil penalties.

You can probably guess which one. But FCA is by no means the only automaker affected by stringent fuel rulings. (Read More…)

By on January 10, 2019

President Donald Trump nominated Andrew Wheeler as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday, setting him up to permanently fill a position he’s already occupied since July.

Trump praised Wheeler in November his “fantastic job” as acting administrator of the EPA following the July 2018 resignation of the agency’s former scandal-ridden head, Scott Pruitt. This month, the president submitted Wheeler’s formal nomination to the Senate. There’s still a ways to go before the ex-lobbyist’s confirmation, though, as the Senate will no doubt be critical of his relatively recent ties to the coal industry. (Read More…)

By on October 29, 2018

 

Ren Cen. GM

General Motors appeared to endorse the Trump administration’s fuel economy rollback, at least to some degree. In a federal filing made public on Monday, the largest U.S. automaker said Obama-era rules that targeted fleetwide fuel efficiency in excess of 50 miles per gallon by 2025 were “not technologically feasible or economically practicable.”

Interesting, considering GM CEO Mary Barra recently called for for the adoption of a national zero-emission vehicle strategy. However, the document also had GM saying it was “troubled” that the current administration appears so keen to abandon federal incentives on electric vehicles after the 2021 model year.  (Read More…)

By on October 25, 2018

California and 18 other states plan to formally vent their grievances over the Trump administration’s proposal to freeze fuel economy standards at 2020 levels on Friday. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have called for public comments on the matter, with the deadline taking place at the end of this week. Apparently, California wants its voice to be the last one heard.

“They are grossly derelict in not trying to move the dial forward in cleaning the air and the environment,” California’s attorney general Xavier Becerra said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “The situation continues to get worse and requires action now, and not for us to stand pat.”  (Read More…)

By on October 5, 2018

California is considering a formal, public counter-proposal to the Trump administration’s proposed rollback of the existing fuel economy requirements for passenger vehicles. Gearing up for the launch, the state has requested that automakers present detailed information on their future products and explain why they’re seeking relief from fueling mandates they previously agreed to adhere to.

“They’ve never submitted to us any information that would back up those claims in any detail to help us craft a solution,” Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, (CARB), said in a Thursday interview with Bloomberg(Read More…)

By on August 7, 2018

fairfax line assembly factory general motors, Image: General Motors

President Donald Trump was obsessed with U.S. employment long before being sworn in as Commander-in-chief. In fact, the jobs rhetoric played a major role in swaying traditionally democratic voters in states like Michigan. The promise of manufacturing positions, the kind of work American used to be known for, was too tempting for some living in the Rust Belt to ignore.

“We’re going to work on the CAFE standards so you can make cars in America again,” he told Detroit’s auto workers in March 2017, referencing the Corporate Average Fuel Economy. “We’re going to help the companies, and they’re going to help you.”

Those fuel economy rollbacks are now fast approaching, after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Environmental Protection Agency released their official proposal last week. But will it truly help bolster employment rates in the United States? The answer depends largely upon who you ask. (Read More…)

By on August 3, 2018

The Trump administration’s ongoing endeavor to replace existing fuel economy mandates with something easier on automakers is a hot topic, but the issue has more angles than a rhombicosidodecahedron. One that took a backseat during much of our coverage is where the oil industry fits into all of this. We figured it was pretty obvious because, every time we heard the word “rollback,” our minds automatically added the cash register sound effect.

Car manufacturers aggressively lobbied for more lax corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards since Donald Trump took office. But so has the oil industry; it just wasn’t doing so quite as openly. So what exactly does the federal government’s fuel economy rollback mean for Big Oil? Don’t act as if you didn’t already know.

Cha-ching(Read More…)

By on July 25, 2018

fuel gauge vintage

Andrew Wheeler, the acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said the United States needs a single standard for fuel efficiency for cars and trucks on Tuesday. It’s a sentiment shared by Mary Nichols, head of California Air Resources Board, but it’s likely to put the two at odds. Wheeler said the pair shared that singular goal based off a meeting held last week, but California isn’t seeking the same benchmarks as the current administration.

The state objects to the EPA’s plan to weaken Obama-era efficiency targets, and is currently in the midst of a political and legal battle with the agency. However, Wheeler confirmed that, under his watch, the group would continue seeking a “50-state solution.”  (Read More…)

By on July 6, 2018

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who spearheaded the Trump administration’s initiative to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards for light vehicles, has resigned. Even after assuming the position, Pruitt remained a tough sell as head of the EPA. His stance on climate change was uncharacteristic of any modern-day environmentalist and he seemed utterly bent on corporate deregulation to bolster profits and stimulate the economy.

Then came a flurry of scandals stemming from frivolous spending habits, improper use of authority, and possible business ties that would inhibit his ability to act in an unbiased manner. Numerous federal investigations were launched into these matters.

While a number of the impropriety claims came from political opponents actively hunting for gaps in his armor, let’s face it, Pruitt hasn’t been making things particularly difficult for them.  (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2018

fuel gauge vintage

Despite the growing animosity, both California and the Trump administration are still willing to discuss the country’s changing emission regulations. The state is currently heading a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming it “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in overturning the previous administration’s decision to maintain Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

While the proposals issued by the current administration will eventually see those targets rolled back, a final decision has not been made. The White House claims it wants to maintain an open dialogue with the Golden State, hoping to reach an agreeable solution, but the California Air Resources Board has argued it doesn’t seem to be acting on those assertions. Meanwhile, EPA head Scott Pruitt maintains that the state will not dictate federal fueling rules as automakers beg the government to do everything in its power to ensure a singular national mandate.

It’s an ugly situation, which makes news of a new round of meetings all the more surprising.  (Read More…)

By on June 1, 2018

fuel gauge vintage

The Trump administration has enacted phase two of its plan to revise Obama-era rules designed to cut pollution from vehicle emissions. In a proposal sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its intention to rescind the California waiver that separates it from the federal standards the state uses to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.

Since allowing California to set its own emission standards would effective split the country’s auto market, the EPA has been clear that its ideal solution would be to cut a deal with the Golden State. Agency head Scott Pruitt previously said California “shouldn’t and can’t dictate [fueling regulations] to the rest of the country,” but acted in a manner that suggested a compromised could be reached.

This was followed by a lawsuit filed by 17 U.S. states, along with the California governor’s office, California attorney general, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), alleging that the EPA had “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in its decision to roll back the previous administration’s decision. While the odds are good that the Trump administration wasn’t ever interested in bending to California’s more stringent pollution policies, this was likely the point of no return — squashing any hope for meaningful negotiations. (Read More…)

By on May 29, 2018

Several science advisers for the Environmental Protection Agency claim the agency has ignored its own research in order to rationalize the push to relax corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) targets.

A group within the Science Advisory Board has recommended reviewing the EPA’s justifications for the intended rollbacks, including the agency’s conclusion that Obama-era auto efficiency requirements must be changed because they are too stringent. It’s hoping to take the agency to task and force it to show evidence that upholds is proposal.

While EPA head Scott Pruitt sides with the President and automotive industry by indicating the current standards are too strict, very little scientific research has been cited to support the claim. In fact, the revision seems to hinge mainly on the belief that automakers might not be able to adhere to the standards approved by the Obama administration in its final days. “Obama’s EPA cut the midterm evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high,” Pruitt said in April.  (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2018

Despite pressuring Donald Trump to lower corporate fuel economy mandates since practically day one of his presidency, automakers are now urging caution. The U.S. Transportation Department has drafted a proposal that would freeze vehicle requirements at 2020 levels through 2026, the Environmental Protection Agency’s lead administrator made a public case for rolling back mileage targets, and the White House seems ready to help car companies lower the bar.

Automakers seem to have won, so why the change of heart? (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2018

sergio-marchionne

Ten automotive executives met with President Donald Trump this week, hoping to find ways to increase domestic production and mitigate the coming changes to corporate fuel economy regulations. The meeting, held in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, included General Motors’ Mary Barra, Ford’s Jim Hackett and Fiat Chrysler’s Sergio Marchionne. While a large portion of the event was spent discussing the administration’s attempt to roll back established fuel economy rules, Trump was focused on returning manufacturing jobs to the United States.

The president noted that FCA’s decision to spend $1 billion in order to expand truck assembly in Michigan made Marchionne more appealing than his contemporaries. “Right now, he is my favorite person in the room,” Trump said.  (Read More…)

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