The state of California has announced that it will no longer purchase cars from car makers that support president Trump’s opposition to clean car and clean air laws.
Under the new ruling, Californian agencies will stop buying petrol and diesel-powered vehicles effective immediately, and from January 2020 it will not buy any vehicles from car makers that have sided with the Trump administration’s efforts to freeze clean car rules and strip California of its right to set its own rules.
California’s move to ban purchases from automakers including General Motors, Toyota and others is in line with an executive order issued by California governor Gavin Newsom to reduce tailpipe emissions as part of its climate action plan.
“The state is finally making the smart move away from internal combustion engine sedans,” California governor Gavin Newsom said in an emailed statement to CalMatters.
“Carmakers that have chosen to be on the wrong side of history will be on the losing end of California’s buying power,” Newsom said.
General Motors, which makes the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt, will be hardest hit. It collected some 40% of sales in 2018 from the state of California’s $US74 million ($A109 million) vehicle budget.
Other car makers who have joined the Trump litigation against California (and who are indicated in yellow and orange below), stand to lose more than $US20 million ($A30 million).
Ford – in blue below and which collected some 25% of California’s 2018 budget to the tune of $US20 million ($A30 million) – along with Volkswagen, Honda and BMW agreed to continue to follow California’s rules in return for a relaxation of the Obama-era clean car rules.
“It certainly sends a strong message to the automakers that have come out on the other side of California in this litigation,” Julia Stein, supervising attorney at UCLA’s Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic, told Calmatters.
“It’s taking steps to encourage automakers to be on what it views as the right side of that dispute.”
The Trump administration has been seeking a freezing of Obama-era EPA fuel emissions legislation at 2021 levels, as well as targetting California and other states that have set their own clean car rules for decades under the Clean Air Act’s Section 177.
The tussle between the federal and state jurisdictions on the issue has divided car makers, even though several studies show that a freezing of fuel emissions standards could cost the US billions in economic and environmental costs and while drivers would pay less at the pump to for the short term, in the long term there would be huge losses in income and GDP.
Despite this, the Trump administration via the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stripped California’s right to make its own carbon emissions rules in September, sparking a legal battle between first California and NHTSA, and as of Friday, between California and the EPA.
Carmakers supporting California in the litigation are now joined by electric carmakers and charging infrastructure providers Tesla, Rivian, Exelon, Pacific Gas and Electric, Chargepoint and Plug In America among others.
On Friday (US time), under the umbrella of the National Coalition for Advanced Transportation, the group moved to line up with other environment groups and states intervening in the law suits against the September ruling, arguing that the stripping of state authority would affect the growing electric vehicle industry.
“NHTSA’s purported elimination of state authority through the Preemption Regulation adversely affects the marketplace for transportation electrification and deployment of advanced vehicle technologies across the country—undermining business opportunities for utilities, manufacturers, and infrastructure companies,” NCAT told the district court, according to Bloomberg.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which includes carmakers on both sides of the ballooning legal battle, says that its position is to support fleets to purchase more electric vehicles.
“So we support efforts by fleet managers to buy more of these vehicles,” said Auto Alliance VP Gloria Bergquist in an email to Calmatters.
“As consumers see more electrified vehicles on the roadways, we hope to see a tipping point where they become more mainstream.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.