June 26, 2020 / 4:19 PM / 9 days ago

Ford, VW will stay neutral on challenges to Trump vehicle emissions rule: document

FILE PHOTO: The Ford logo is seen at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four major automakers will not take a position on legal challenges to the Trump administration’s decision to dramatically weaken Obama-era fuel economy standards but want to weigh in on any court fix, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The Trump administration in March finalized rollback of U.S. vehicle emissions standards to require 1.5% annual increases in efficiency through 2026. That is far weaker than the 5% annual increases in the discarded rules adopted under President Barack Obama.

Ford Motor Co, Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), Honda Motor Co and BMW AG struck a voluntary agreement with California in July 2019 on vehicle emissions rules. On Monday, the four automakers plan to ask a U.S. Appeals Court in Washington for permission to be heard in the court challenge “to ensure that any remedy imposed by this court is both appropriate and achievable,” according to a draft of the filing.

Last month, a group of 23 U.S. states led by California, as well as the District of Columbia and some major cities, challenged the Trump vehicle rule.

Volkswagen said on Friday its “preference continues to be one set of national standards that’s achieved through an agreement between the federal government and California.”

Other major automakers like General Motors Co, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Toyota Motor Corp have sided with the Trump administration on the rollback. Those companies also sided with the Trump administration in a separate lawsuit over whether the federal government can strip California of the right to set zero emission vehicle requirements.

California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols told Reuters on Wednesday the board hopes to finalize the voluntary agreements in the “next few weeks” as memorandums of understanding with the individual automakers.

Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler and Matthew Lewis

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