Thanks for nothing, Toyota and GM.
It's deeply irritating that you've chosen to join with the Trump administration in challenging the longstanding federal law that has allowed California and 12 other states to require stricter auto emissions than the national standard.
A LA Times opinion piece, "By siding with Trump on emissions, GM, Chrysler and Toyota are asking for industry chaos," describes what's at stake here.
General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota say the reason they’re backing the Trump administration in its assault on California’s decades-old campaign to reduce auto emissions is to avoid fragmenting the industry in search of a single national environmental standard.
Yet by their action, they’re widening a gulf between four other major automakers that have voluntarily agreed to comply with California standards and the rest of the industry.
What’s wrong with this picture?
...For all their talk about wanting a single national emissions standard, GM, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota are fomenting a split within their own industry, since Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen reached agreement with California earlier this year to voluntarily honor the state’s standards. That agreement drew fire from the administration, in the form of an antitrust investigation launched by the Department of Justice.
The risk in the move by GM, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota is that it will harden the positions of both the Trump administration and California, leaving the dispute to remain in the lap of federal courts. That’s a formula for years of uncertainty over emissions and mileage standards, which the industry rightly fears most.
The truth is that what’s happening is a political fight launched by Trump against California, which he sees (rightly) as a progressive bulwark against his retrograde policymaking. The rollback of emissions standards and the attack on California’s authority to set its own rules are merely part of a broader war, which most recently has comprised an attack on the state’s cap-and-trade program and threats to withdraw federal highway funds.
This is a dumb move by GM and Toyota. Fiat Chrysler also, but who buys their vehicles?
My wife and I have bought quite a few Toyotas: several Prius', several Highlanders, a MR2 way back when, and just this year, a RAV4 Hybrid.
And we've leased three Chevy Volts, which had great environmental credentials, being a plug-in hybrid with about 50 miles of all-electric range in its final iteration. (GM has discontinued the Volt, sadly.)
Now, I'm not saying that we'll never buy another Toyota or GM car. But knowing that these carmakers have chosen to side with the Trump administration on allowing higher auto emissions sure doesn't make us more likely to buy one of their vehicles.
On the flip side, I now feel more inclined to buy another Volkswagen to replace my much-beloved GTI -- either the eighth generation GTI, or the upcoming electric crossover, the Crozz.
It's unfortunate that buying a car now has political overtones. But the Trump administration chose to challenge California, and automakers are having to pick sides.
Here's an interesting Twitter graphic that shows how various automakers have done mileage-wise and emissions-wise. Toyota is going in the wrong direction.