US automakers are already calling on the Trump administration to fulfill campaign promises to roll back regulations on their industry. Lobbyists for the auto industry wrote a letter to the new EPA head, Scott Pruitt, asking him to reverse a move by the Obama administration, that last month set higher fuel efficiency standards to be met by 2025. The automakers argue that the new standards will be tough and expensive to reach, and would force them to produce high mileage cars during a time in which roomier options such as trucks and SUVs are in demand, and more profitable.
Mitch Bainwol, chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said the new standards “threaten to depress an industry that can ill afford spiraling regulatory costs.” His group represents 12 automakers including Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors.
Another letter to similar effect was sent by Association of Global Automakers, representing another 12 firms.
For their part, environmental advocates have argued that industry lobbyists are exaggerating the burden of reaching the 2025 targets, which call for an average fuel economy rating of 54.5 miles per gallon from a company’s US fleet. Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign, said “An increasing number of cars achieve the goal now,” including popular hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and electric cars. These models have become less popular in a period in which gas prices have fallen to less than 3 dollars a gallon. SUVs and trucks would require new technology to meet these targets, potentially either raising prices for consumers or affecting the company’s profits.
Becker also pointed out that Obama’s regulations, put in place to reduce emissions and halt climate change, had not stopped the auto industry from achieving record profits in recent years. If the Trump administration does roll back regulations, companies will still need to meet tougher standards set by California and other states.
In 2012, automakers agreed on new standards with the Obama administration, setting requirements for steady increases in mileage over time. The 2017 standards call for 33 miles per gallon for large cars, which translates to about 25 per gallon in terms of real world driving. Most companies have either met this goal, or are close to doing so. Automakers have argued that the additional 2025 target will be hard to achieve.
At a January meeting between Trump and the chief executives of Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler, the president urged the companies to provide additional US jobs in exchange for more relaxed regulatory policies.