Tesla and Rivian have teamed up with other industry leaders such as ChargePoint, Plug in America and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) to form the National Coalition for Advanced Transportation (NCAT) to join the fight against the Trump government’s plan.
Since the Trump government began the effort to deprive California of the right to set its own environmental standards, there has been considerable counter activity on the side of state governments and citizen organisations. Now with the NCAT, Tesla, Rivian and others have added clout to those state governments with their support for California and other states to set their own emissions standards. Prudently, VW, BMW, Ford and Honda already signed a framework agreement with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to reduce emissions, whereas manufacturers GM, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota coalesced to the Trump government on this issue.
On 15 November, the NCAT filed a motion with the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. to join California and twenty-two states in the two lawsuits recently opened against both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) – The two federal agencies who recently revoked California’s rights to set their own emissions standards differing from those of the current Trump administration.
While joining NCAT is clearly in the interests of company’s that produce emission-free vehicles and services, GM, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota’s inability to hold firm against the Trump government is now ricocheting against them. Earlier this month, the California Department of General Services (DGS) instructed state authorities to only procure vehicles from OEMs as of January 1, 2020, who support California’s right to set its own environmental standards – a move that will potentially cost these companies millions in revenue. This affects GM’s Chevrolet brand more than anyone since the state purchased more than $27M worth of vehicles from them in 2018.
In a world of planetary climate crises and rapidly changing attitudes to fossil fuels, nobody gets out cleanly, but the recent uproar in the US shows how quickly the tables can turn in popular opinion. Just over a year ago, General Motors was leading the charge against the Trump government when they issued a proposal that openly defied the Trump administration’s attempt to water down emission regulations. GM demanded that the Federal US Government issue a national zero-emissions vehicle program. Toyota too had long since registered on the public moral compass with its pioneering role in bringing out the world’s first mass-market hybrid electric car.
On the other side of public opinion only a couple of years ago, the world’s largest manufacturer of cars, Volkswagen, was under siege for its manipulation of diesel emissions and was forced to support electric mobility with the foundation of Electrify America.
Now, however, GM, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota’s failure to stand firm against reduced emissions regulations will lose them significant revenue with an effective boycott from California, the world’s fifth-largest economy, while Volkswagen is now leading the charge of electric mobility and benefitting the favour of the Californian government as well as positive attention worldwide with its promise to bring affordable electric cars to the masses.
Just in case carmakers don’t get the message that history books – and the fate of their companies – are now being written, there is also a petition underway calling for a boycott of the carmakers GM, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler.