WASHINGTON, Aug 21 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump chastised automakers on Wednesday for not backing his administration’s plan to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency rules.
Last month, Ford Motor Co, Honda Motor Co, BMW AG and Volkswagen AG reached a voluntary agreement with California on fuel efficiency rules, defying Trump and his administration’s effort to strip the state of the right to fight climate change by setting its own standards.
The White House has urged other automakers not to back the California agreement, while Democrats have been calling and writing automakers urging them to sign on with California.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday ridiculed the voluntary framework, which it said “so far has been nothing more than a press release.”
“My proposal to the politically correct Automobile Companies would lower the average price of a car to consumers by more than $3000, while at the same time making the cars substantially safer. Engines would run smoother. Very little impact on the environment! Foolish executives!” Trump tweeted.
Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, representing General Motors Co, Toyota Motor Corp, Ford, Volkswagen and others, said the companies “look forward to seeing a final rule soon. We support increases to standards that optimize all the priorities, including affordability so more Americans can buy a new car, plus preserving jobs and safety at the same time.”
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said Trump’s tweet was completely untrue. “Trump’s rollback is unraveling from every corner,” he said.
All major automakers are on record saying they oppose the administration’s “preferred option” announced in August 2018, which would freeze fuel economy requirements at 2020 levels through 2026.
Trump’s tweet misstated some aspects of the administration’s proposal, expected to be finalized sometime after late September. The proposal said that by the 2030 model year, the average price increase of a new vehicle would be reduced by $1,850 and consumers would pay $490 less for financing, insurance and taxes. There is nothing in the administration’s proposed revisions that would result in engines running more smoothly, experts say.
The Trump plan’s preferred alternative would hike U.S. oil consumption by about 500,000 barrels per day in the 2030s but reduce automakers’ collective regulatory costs by more than $300 billion. It would bar California from requiring automakers to sell a rising number of electric vehicles or setting state emissions rules.
The administration says the increased fuel use would hike the average global temperature by 3/1000th of one degree Celsius by 2100, but would also save thousands of lives over the next 30 years — in part because consumers would more quickly buy safer, cheaper vehicles. Environmentalists and many states reject that analysis.
The Obama-era rules adopted in 2012 called for a fleetwide fuel efficiency average of 46.7 miles per gallon by 2025, with average annual increases of about 5%, compared with 37 mpg by 2026 under the Trump administration’s preferred option. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Dan Grebler)