| SAO PAULO
SAO PAULO Oct 26 (Reuters Point Carbon) - Carmaker Toyota
and Mexico's auto industry have sued the Mexican government to
try to block proposed regulations to align the fuel efficiency
standard of cars and light trucks with that of the United States
to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Toyota last month obtained a federal court
injunction to stop the government's work on Nom-163, a rule that
would require the fleet of new cars and light trucks to achieve
a fuel economy rate of 14.9 kilometers per liter, or 35 miles
per gallon, by 2016.
Mexico appealed but the local carmakers association, Amia,
joined Toyota in its legal action to block the rule, which would
also align the fuel economy standard of Mexico's new cars with
that of Canada.
The controversy highlights the resistance by Mexico's
manufacturing sector to the low-carbon regulations introduced in
the last few years by the government as the global economy drags
and competition increases.
The companies allege the proposed standard is too strict and
would increase vehicle prices, therefore reducing sales.
The government thinks the auto industry is challenging the
regulation in order to be able to sell cars in Mexico that it
can no longer sell abroad to markets with tougher regulations.
Mexico has led a high profile effort to decarbonize its
economy, and drew international attention by being one of the
few countries to enact comprehensive climate legislation.
Although it is a developing country, Mexico has pledged to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from
business-as-usual levels by 2020.
The energy sector accounts for up to 70 percent of Mexico's
emissions and almost 30 percent of that share is
transportation-related. Reducing the amount of fuel necessary to
move Mexico's fleet is an important step for the country to
reach its target, the government contends.
Mexico is the world's eighth largest car producer, having
produced 2.6 million vehicles in 2011, and ranks fifth among the
major exporters. The country decided to change its norms for
vehicles to harmonize regulations with its North American trade
The regulation is based on the United States' Corporate
Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) developed by the Obama
administration and the top U.S. automakers.
Mexico estimates the standard could reduce carbon dioxide
emissions by 160 million tonnes by 2030.
Amia says the government, however, did not include some of
the incentives contained in the U.S. regulation, such as credits
for production of hybrids and for cars that could run on a mix
of ethanol. It also complained that the limit for light trucks'
fuel consumption was changed after the public consultation
The lobby group also argued that the rule should be more
flexible than CAFE since central Mexico's high altitude makes
higher fuel efficiency harder to achieve.
"Without the flexibilities and with the late change for
trucks the new norm will become even stricter than the CAFE
regulation," Amia said in a statement.
"The objective was to suspend the work on the new rule
because we could not have a dialogue with the government," Ana
Maria Vallarino, Toyota's public relations director in Mexico,
told Reuters Point Carbon on Thursday.
"Toyota is not against the rule but wants an efficient
regulation that benefits the Mexican consumer," she said.
Sandra Herrera Flores, Mexico's environment undersecretary
and one of the officials working on the new standard, said
companies had almost two years to discuss the regulation so a
late legal challenge is not justified.
"Mexico exports 80 percent of all cars produced locally.
From that, 75 percent head to U.S., Canada and Europe, so these
vehicles already comply with regulations we are trying to
pursue, or even tougher regulations," she said.
"So, it is hard to understand what is going on. We hope the
court decides that the rule is in the public's interest and
allows work to proceed," said the official.
The government said it is uncertain how long the legal fight
with the industry will last.