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Biden win is pressuring carmakers to unite on tailpipe emissions

By Keith Laing, Bloomberg News on

Published in Business News

Carmakers that signed up for President Donald Trump's war with California over auto emissions are now being pressured to join a peace plan brought on by the election of Joe Biden.

The automakers had split a year ago over a plan by the Trump administration to roll back gas mileage rules put in place by President Barack Obama and revoke California's permission to set its own standards on tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions.

General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV backed Trump. Rivals, including Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG, reached an agreement on higher standards with California that angered Trump so much that his administration initiated a brief antitrust investigation.

On Monday, a top Ford executive urged his company's competitors to join the California agreement in a letter sent ahead of a board meeting on Tuesday of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which lobbies for domestic and foreign-owned car manufacturers in Washington.

"Given the outcome of the election, and the pressing issues that extend beyond fuel economy and the scope of these standards, it would be an enormous value for the industry to be able to pivot quickly and move forward with a single standard," Kumar Galhotra, Ford's president of the Americas and International Markets Group, said in a letter to other automakers seen by Bloomberg News.

That followed a message from GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra to environmental groups last week that said the company would withdraw from Trump's legal battle with California because company's goal of speeding adoption of electric vehicles is aligned with Biden's support of cleaner cars.

 

Biden said in a statement that the Detroit company's decision "will have a positive ripple effect as our nation strives to out-compete our global competitors, create good-paying union jobs here at home, and reclaim our place as leaders in innovation and manufacturing."

"To demonstrate real leadership, automakers should also announce their support for the voluntary agreement led by Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, BMW, and Volvo, and begin to work with the President-elect," Delaware Senator Tom Carper, who is the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement Tuesday.

Luke Tonachel, director of clean vehicles and fuels at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said "Without the cover of the Trump administration gutting these standards, automakers are realizing they don't want to be left alone on the wrong side of history."

John Bozzella, president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, said in a statement after his group's board meeting on Tuesday: "The long-term future of the auto industry is electric."

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