Service of Should One Manufacturing Car Rule Fit All?

September 3rd, 2019

Categories: Automobiles, Government

Photo: ford.com

When it comes to rules governing clean air and other environmental issues, health care too, California has been ahead of the curve as long as I can remember. I’ve worked with associations and companies that would cringe when the state proposed a new regulation governing the industries in which they were involved because they feared it would cost them money and catch on universally.

The state currently has a federal waiver that allows it to set its own auto emission standards.

The Trump administration is proposing to ease fuel economy standards to save manufacturers money and encourage them to sell gas-hungry trucks and sport utility vehicles the public prefers. According to Ben Foldy and Mike Colias in The Wall Street Journal “the rollback being pushed by the administration is so extensive that car companies are worried it will set off a protracted legal battle with California—the nation’s most populous state and the biggest auto market—and ultimately conclude with manufacturers having to meet two different sets of requirements for selling cars in the U.S.”

Photo: bmwusa.com

Federal rules agreed upon in 2012 called “for increases in fuel economy annually through mid-decade to an average of about 50 miles a gallon.” The administration wants to freeze them at 37 miles a gallon.

Meanwhile Ford, Volkswagen, Honda and BMW signed a separate agreement with California for standards more rigorous than this administration’s and not as severe as the last one’s. Mr. Trump reacted: “Car companies should know that when this administration’s alternative is no longer available, California will squeeze them to a point of business ruin.”

Photo: vw.com

Foldy and Colias wrote: “In a statement responding to the tweets, Ford said: ‘We have consistently supported one 50-state solution for regulating fuel economy standards, and this agreement with California provides regulatory stability while reducing CO2 more than complying with two different standards.’”

Its obvious why a 50-state solution is ideal. Tweaking cars for different markets is onerous and far more costly than, say, manufacturing pillowcases in different sizes for European and U.S. beds.

Other manufacturers that didn’t join the four wanted to wait for the final federal ruling anticipated for later this year. Foreign manufacturers didn’t participate in the pact, according to Foldy and Colias, was because they were afraid the president would impose tariffs on their cars as he’d threatened.

The administration also wants to “revoke California’s federal waiver to set its own emissions standards.”

Outlier GM is “pushing for rules to require car companies to sell battery-powered cars across all 50 states,” and feels that the Golden State doesn’t give “enough credit for sales of fully electric vehicles.”

Should car manufacturers be encouraged to produce more fuel efficient vehicles or is it better to loosen up the rules to keep them increasingly profitable so that they can share profits with investors and employees and in theory pay more taxes contributing to the greater good? Is the administration right to rescind California’s exemption from federal emission standards so that manufacturers can make one car that fits all rules?

Photo: hondanorth.com

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6 Responses to “Service of Should One Manufacturing Car Rule Fit All?”

  1. BC Said:

    Too many companies are moving to build all electric cars. Energy for electric cars from gas, fuel, coal! Not enough windmills, solar power or storage facilities along the road to recharge your electric cars. Still need gas or hybrid engines till a better transition is made to solar power!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    BC,

    All valid points.

    Something else: When you’re in my line of work you are most often asked to help promote new products. When they are innovative and subsequently bought by a large number of people, 9.5 times out of ten the manufacturer hears of glitches that weren’t identified in the test period. What did I learn? NEVER be first. It will be a while, even after there are plenty of places to recharge them, before I’d even rent an electric car!

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    The less government influences private lives, the better. However, this involves public health, so standards should be set. There remain issues with electric and self-driving cars, so unless and until they are cleared up, it’s wise to stick to existing technology.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I’m in favor of standards set and enforced by government because I cannot trust businesses to be honorable and do the right thing. Public well-being is involved for sure. Future generations will thank us if we don’t eat up all fossil fuels because we think driving a truck or sport utility vehicle is cool, to heck with the amount of fuel they consume.

    My car has some of the latest technology. I am not enamored of the keyless car although I like not having to fish for the gadget to unlock the door if the wireless key fob is in my handbag or my pocket, near the door. I am waiting for something to go wrong with the thing and I won’t be able to either enter or start the car. I prefer the less techy option, a good old fashioned key.

  5. Martha Takayama Said:

    Manufacturers should absolutely be encouraged to produce more fuel efficient vehicles. The manufacturers furthermore should shape consumer demand by producing and marketing with all their power cars that are logical and destined to have a positive effect on the environment and consumer patterns of behavior. Safety in all areas including the environment should be of paramount importance. How about a little selfish concern for longevity and the public good.

    Automobile manufacturing standards should be national/Federal and reflect concern for all elements of public health, safety and the environment. People also should be encouraged to address the damage inflicted by gases and the overcrowding on our streets. I am a non-driver, but I do share the air we breath.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    I agree that the laws should be federal and apply to all vehicles as this would be the most logical way to lower the cost of manufacturing for each brand selling cars here. But we can’t count on the federal government to do the right thing and the direction of the current administration in this regard is backwards. Meanwhile California should be commended for its stance that helps us all breath, live healthier lives and not run out of fuel at the rate we will if we lower the bar on our fuel consumption standards.

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