Mercedes-Benz, in a setback to the Trump administration’s efforts to ease federal fuel-efficiency targets, may be the next automaker to agree to California’s new voluntary light-vehicle emissions rules with four major automakers, The New York Times reported, citing two people familiar with the automaker’s plans. The paper said the White House is also pressing other automakers to stand behind the administration’s proposal.
Volkswagen Group, Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and BMW Group in July reached a compromise with California regulators to make light vehicles more efficient annually through the 2026 model year.
The California pact counters the Trump administration’s attempts to dial back emissions targets set by the Obama administration. The Obama-era rules, enacted in 2012, require automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and light trucks to 54.5 mpg by the 2025 model year.
Mercedes-Benz declined to comment, the Times said.
California and 13 other states plan to enforce current, stricter emissions rules. Those states may also sue the Trump administration over the new federal rules, a move automakers hope to avoid.
The Times said officials from General Motors, Toyota Motor Corp. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles met with a senior Trump adviser at the White House last month and were urged to stand by the president’s proposal.
Toyota, GM and FCA declined to comment on discussions with the White House, the paper said, while noting FCA CEO Mike Manley recently said the company would “absolutely” look at the California deal and “see what it means.”
The White House plan would freeze fuel economy standards at about 37 mpg and is being billed by Trump as a way for the auto industry to keep new-vehicle prices down while easing regulatory burdens. The Trump proposal would also rescind California’s longtime legal authority to impose its own emissions standards.
Automakers, hoping to avoid a legal fight or discrepancies between state and federal emissions standards, have voluntarily agreed to follow California standards.
California, the most populous U.S. state, accounts for about 12 percent of U.S. new-vehicle sales.
A sixth automaker is also expected to join the California deal, the Times also reported, echoing comments by state regulators last week that more companies plan to participate under the compromise pact.