Several big automakers are siding with California in following stricter emissions standards, and Trump is highly agitated.
Trump is furious at car companies. Five of the world's largest automakers — Mercedes, Ford, BMW, Honda, and VW — have scorned his administration's rollback of auto pollution standards. Instead, they've agreed to follow the more stringent emissions standards adopted in California.
Ford, BMW, Honda, and VW had already made a voluntary deal with California last month. When the L.A. Times reported on Tuesday that Mercedes would be joining the agreement, that seems to have sent Trump over the edge.
So, of course, he took to Twitter to complain. Wednesday morning, he raged against "politically correct Automobile Companies" and said, absent any evidence, that his lower emission standards would lower the cost of cars by $3,000 and make the vehicles "substantially safer." He also declared that his rollback would have "[v]ery little impact on the environment!"
That's simply not true. The standards promulgated under Obama would have cut carbon dioxide emissions by approximately six billion tons over the lifespan of all the automobiles that would have fallen under the rules. Apparently to Trump that's just a rounding error.
Wednesday evening, Trump was still going strong, having pivoted to worrying that the founders of Ford Motor Company and General Motors were "rolling over" at the "weakness" of current auto executives because they're willing to spend more money on a car that is "not as safe or good."
Of course, there's no evidence whatsoever that higher emission standards lead to less safe cars, but that didn't stop Trump, who then tweeted that Henry Ford would be "very disappointed" in the current executives for building a car that is "less safe and doesn’t work as well."
Trump saved some ire for California, of course, saying that the state will "squeeze [automakers] to a point of business ruin" — it's entirely unclear how.
The administration has tried to say that the lower emissions standards were enacted as a benefit to car companies, but the car companies don't seem to agree. It also sounds like at least one of the remaining large automakers — Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, and General Motors — isn't all that susceptible to the administration's begging.
All three were summoned to the White House after the news broke in July so the White House could try to pressure them to stick with Trump's pro-pollution stance. However, the New York Times reported on Tuesday that at least one of the three would be spurning Trump and following the California standards instead. With that, around 40% of cars sold in the United States will be following California's lead, not Trump's.
Trump is probably going to get much angrier before all this is done.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.