Simanaitis Says

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OUR DISCUSSION of the Trump administration’s proposed backpedaling on existing Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards started here yesterday in Part 1. Today, we touch on states’ rights, international implications, returns on investment, and the opinion of a guy named Ford.

Even after recognizing the differences among CAFE mpg, EPA mpg, and real-world mpg discussed here yesterday, we’re still confronted with nuances a’plenty in the Trump proposal.

California Clean Air Standards. As reported in The New York Times, March 29, 2018, “The move—which undercuts one of President Barack Obama’s signature efforts to fight climate change—would also propel the Trump administration toward a courtroom clash with California, which has vowed to stick with the stricter rules even if Washington rolls back federal standards.”

Image by Christopher Occhicone for The New York Times.

And more than California is involved: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, D.C., have followed California clean air standards. The New York Times notes, “Together they represent more than a third of the domestic auto market.”

Before unification of emissions standards, there were separate California and 49-state models, something automakers would be loath to contend with again.

Moving the Metal Overseas. Other automotive markets around the world are evolving increasingly tough standards of fuel efficiency and clean air. Indeed, more than a few countries have proposed an eventual ban of gasoline and diesel cars.

According to, the U.S. exported almost 2 million passenger vehicles in 2017; this, about 11 percent of the 17.25 million produced. Canada received the most, with about 46 percent of the U.S. exported product. China is next, at 13 percent.

Image from

Back in 2016, USA Today reported that Buick sold more than eight cars in China for each one sold in the U.S. China continues to be Buick’s largest market today.

As noted in The Drive, in 2017 more Cadillacs were sold in China than in the U.S.

Bill Ford’s View. Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford, wrote in, March 27, 2018, “We support increasing clean air standards through 2025 and are not asking for a rollback. We want one set of standards nationally, along with additional flexibility to help us provide more affordable options for our customers. We believe that working together with EPA, NHTSA, and California, we can deliver on this standard.”

Back in Detroit’s bad old days of 2008, the feds gave bankrupted GM and Chrysler bailout loans totaling $17.5 billion. Ford avoided bankruptcy, with rather less help from Washington.

Return on Investment. U.S. automakers have invested billions of dollars in working toward 2025 CAFE goals. Rolling back the regulations would represent money wasted—and hardly benefit potential international sales.

Bloomberg Gadfly offered an opinion along these lines: “Detroit Should Beware Making Gas-Guzzlers Great Again.” It concluded its analysis with “Detroit, be careful what you wish for.” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2018

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