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California rejects automakers backing Trump’s emissions reversal

The state of California has said it will immediately cease buying vehicles from General Motors (GM), Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and other automakers which supported the Trump administration’s decision to try and take away individual state rights to set emissions standards.

The Trump administration has attempted to make all states follow national emission standards, which are less rigid than those imposed by the California state.

Reuters reported that between 2016 and 2018, California purchased $58.6m (£45m) in vehicles from GM; $55.8m from Fiat Chrysler; $10.6m from Toyota, and $9m from Nissan.

Earlier this year, the White House started pressuring automakers to back its effort to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards and bar California from setting its own emissions standards or requiring electric vehicles.

In August 2018, the Trump administration said its preferred plan was to freeze fuel efficiency standards at 2020 levels until 2026.

In September this year, Global Automakers, a body which represents the firms California has banned, said: “A balanced fuel economy regulation is critical for the health of the US auto industry. 

“Throughout the rulemaking process, Global Automakers has called for a unified national standard that continues the industry’s significant progress in improving motor vehicle fuel economy and that rewards investments in next-generation fuel-saving technologies.”

The automakers declined or did not immediately comment on California’s announced ban on purchases of their vehicles.

From January 2020, the state has said it will only buy from automakers that recognise its legal authority to set emissions standards. This includes Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen, which struck a deal with California in July to follow revised state vehicle emissions standards.

“Car makers that have chosen to be on the wrong side of history will be on the losing end of California’s buying power,” said Gavin Newsom, California Governor, in a public statement.

California purchased $69.2m in vehicles from Ford over the same three-year-period 2016-2018, along with $565,000 from Honda and none from the German automakers.

The state also disclosed it will immediately no longer allow state agencies to buy sedans powered by an internal combustion engine, with exemptions for certain public safety vehicles.

California’s vehicle rules have also been adopted by 13 other US states.

On Friday, California and 22 other states challenged the Trump administration’s decision to revoke California’s legal authority to set vehicle tailpipe emissions rules and require a rising number of zero-emission vehicles.

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