Coral Davenport and Hiroko Tabuchi, THE NEW YORK TIMES
An executive at another large automaker said his company was considering joining the agreement because it includes meaningful concessions by California. The executive, who spoke on condition that neither he nor his company be identified, said that the Obama-era fuel economy standards were difficult for the industry to meet because car buyers increasingly prefer sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks that tend to have much lower fuel economy than sedans.
Four of the world’s largest automakers have struck a deal with California to reduce automobile emissions, siding with the state, and against President Trump, in a bitter fight over one of the president’s most consequential regulatory rollbacks.
In coming weeks, the Trump administration is expected to all but eliminate a signature Obama-era regulation designed to reduce vehicle emissions that contribute to global warming. However, California and 13 other states have vowed to keep enforcing the stricter rules, potentially splitting the United States auto market in two, with car companies forced to build different lineups of vehicles for different states.
The prospect of that nightmare scenario for automakers spawned secretive talks in recent weeks between California regulators and four auto giants — Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda and BMW — in which the automakers won slightly less restrictive rules that they can apply to vehicles sold nationwide.
The agreement provides “much-needed regulatory certainty,” the companies said in a joint statement, while enabling them to “meet both federal and state requirements with a single national fleet, avoiding a patchwork of regulations.”