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Why Trump is using Henry Ford, gas mileage to call out automakers on Twitter

Randy Essex, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

President Donald Trump is angry with automakers, including Ford, that have signed onto a deal with California for fuel-economy standards that are tougher than what the administration wants.

"Henry Ford would be very disappointed if he saw his modern-day descendants wanting to build a much more expensive car, that is far less safe and doesn't work as well, because execs don't want to fight California regulators," Trump tweeted this week. "Car companies should know that when this Administration's alternative is no longer available, California will squeeze them to a point of business ruin."

What's at stake

Trump wants to roll back an Obama administration rule that required carmakers to achieve a fleet average of 54 miles per gallon (on paper) by 2025. "On paper" is an important qualifier. Consumer Reports estimates that the 54 mpg from lab testing and after various credits are applied would be closer to 36 mpg in real-world driving.

Trump would freeze the standard at 2021's 37 mpg paper requirement, which would be closer to 29 mpg on the road.

The fuel-economy standards have multiple purposes in U.S. policy:

 

--Saving consumers money

--Reducing U.S. reliance on foreign oil

--Reducing air pollution.

The latter is why California has been able to set its own standards under an exemption it has to the Clean Air Act. Trump is seeking to rescind that exemption, which is tied up in the courts. Transportation, generally the automobile, is the United States' biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which affect climate change.

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