Ford CEO Mark Fields has some feelings about the EPA's timing to lock up 2025 CO2/CAFE standards before President-Elect Trump takes offive
Ford CEO Mark Fields publicly tipped his toe into the murky waters of using questionable statistics to prove that his company should be exempt from future C02 emission/fleet MPG standards, as a result of a recent EPA mid-term review to lock in 2025 emission standards before the Trump administration takes control in January.
More full-size trucks for everyone!
Fields, for his part, says that Ford is being forced to build more plug-ins and hybrids than the consumer doesn't want, and that those vehicles are hurting profits.
But before we get into the "quotes of annoyance" from the Ford boss specifically, here is a brief backstory/timeline of events that has prompted the public outburst from Fields:
President Obama In 2017 Chevrolet Bolt At 2016 NAIAS
2012: Obama Administration introduces new CO2 emission standards along with NHTSA CAFE standards for a fleet at 54.5 mpg (works out to ~38 MPG in real world terms), around the same time CARB introduces the start of minimium ZEV (zero emission vehicles) production requirements in California
Through April 2018: timeline for the final "mid-term" review to be filed on EPA's 2022-2025 mandate for tailpipe emissions of CO2/54.5 MPG - to make sure the planned benchmarks are "technically" possible
November 8th, 2016: US has an administration change that will take office January 20th, President-Elect Trump widely expected to be less "environmentally friendly" when any such progress may also impair US prosperity
November 10th, 2016: "Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers" - a shell entity made up of most of the major automakers (General Motors, Ford, BMW, Mercedes, VW, Mazda, Volvo, Fiat, Jaguar, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Toyota) fires off a letter to the new Trump administration, basically ask to not only hold back on that mid-term review process before the administration change, but to also then "reform" the process - thereby rolling everything back, discontinuing the current emission standards for the future, and also "harmonize" and control CARB and its ZEV programs
President Obama gets into an Ford Focus Electric Prototype In July Of 2010 during the groundbreaking ceremony For LG's Holland Plant in July of 2010
November 30th, 2016: although the EPA's Janet McCabe, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, says the timing was unintentional, suddenly the EPA has completed its mid-term review way early (~17 months ahead of the deadline), and as a result, we now enter a 30 day comment/review period before seeking a "final approval" on or around December 30th, 2016 from the Obama government - just three weeks before President-Elect Trump takes over.
December 30th and onward: if the EPA mandate is approved (and it will be), it is then no simple thing/magic wand for the Trump administration to undo. As to do so would start over the full (and complicated) NHSTA review process on any new standards, as well the effort to contest/over-turn all the science in the currently filed review. From there, the process would have to withstand the myriad of legal challenges from environmental groups that would surely come, and also wind its way into the Senate (who will be busy working on rolling back all sorts of other programs). Basically, it will be a huge pain, and it will take a heck of a long time.
...then after all that fight is over, add in the fact California (CARB) still has its own special legal rights (recognized and defended by the Supreme Court) to enforce transportation regulations to control air-quality standards, so gaining control over CARB is even a step further still. And if you can't defeat CARB, the whole rest of the process is essentially meaningless.
Got all that? Good. Back to Fields.
The Ford CEO, as part of the "Auto Alliance" wants the Trump administration to be affronted by the EPA's 'rushed' review, and turn the whole thing on its head, regardless of the challenge it will present.
“What happened was through eleventh-hour politics, it short-circuited a data-driven development of regulations,” Fields said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Southfield, Michigan, office Friday
And like any good (and self-serving) CEO, he came armed with some loose facts to support his position - that the consumer doesn't really want any of those highly efficient vehicles his company will be forced to build.
“In 2008, there were 12 electrified vehicles offered in the U.S. market and it represented 2.3 percent of the industry. Fast forward to 2016, there’s 55 models, and year to date it’s 2.8 percent.”
This is not a formula for success, he said. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to have customers, so obviously, there would be pressure on the business if there’s not a market."
Not withstanding the CEO's opinion of what the public "wants" (or that the current demand that is mostly a reflection of the incongruent offerings the auto industry has presented of late - thus self-fulfilling any prophecy), the actual review filed by the EPA was not done so to judge what the future US consumer wants, it was there to assess whether or not it was technically possible...of which the EPA said the industry is prepared.
Yay for more trucks!
Via the EPA:
"Based on extensive technical analysis that shows automakers are well positioned to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for model years 2022-2025, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy today proposed leaving the standards in place, so the program that was established in 2012 will stay on track to nearly double fuel economy, dramatically cut carbon pollution, maintain regulatory certainty for a global industry, and save American drivers billions of dollars at the pump."
See? Nothing about if the US consumer in 2025 really wants a circa 2016 hybrid or not. Just that they have the know-how/ability to do it.
A rare opportunity for us to break into our "Politician with EV" stock footage files (President Obama seen here with 1st gen Chevrolet Volt)
Ford CEO Fields said he still looks to Trump to "continue the dialog as planned", and offered that the automakers may look for clean-air credits for self-driving cars.
And why would this be helpful if they those vehicles still burning petrol at a higher/dirtier rate than the current future standards would allow? Fields says that fuel emission would be reduced as self-driving tech would help traffic move more smoothly.
Despite Ford's stance to halt the progress of electrified vehicles, the company still lead all US automakers in November with 2,604 plug-in vehicle sales
Mr. Fields also said he has no plans to change or rollback Ford's $4.5 billion worth of planned investment into electrified vehicles by 2020; which makes a lot of sense as the emission standards are set in stone between today and 2022, and if anything, the road to killing the 2022-2025 standards just got a lot tougher.
Bloomberg also added a little after-the-fact, green-washing note from the Ford CEO"
"Ford wants to continue to help boost fuel economy and lessen the industry’s environmental impact, because the company acknowledges climate change as a serious threat, Fields said."