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Volvo joins automakers siding with California on emissions, opposing Trump administration

Donald Trump last week gutted fuel economy standards, a direct attack on electric vehicles. The move further separates federal emissions standards from California’s strong zero-emission rules. Thank goodness, BMW, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen sided with California by striking individual deals with the state for higher efficiency. Now Volvo joins those four automakers by directly negotiating with California about emissions.

National fuel economy targets will now barely inch forward by 1.5% through 2026. On the day that the Trump administration gutted Obama-era efficiency standards, Volvo said that it was talking with California.

Geely, the Chinese automaker, owns the Volvo and Polestar brands, which have robust electric vehicle programs. Volvo plans to launch an all-electric car every year for the next five years. By 2025, Volvo wants all-electric vehicles to represent 50% of its global sales.

In January, Volvo opened online orders for its first mass-produced EV — the Volvo XC40 Recharge. A $1,000 deposit is required for a reservation. The 402-horsepower all-electric crossover will provide more than 200 miles on a single charge.

Volvo XC40 Recharge

Volvo now joins the other four automakers in volunteering to meet more stringent emissions goals set by California. The companies said they wouldn’t support federal legal challenges to the state’s ability to set its own rules.

On the other side of history (and clean air), Fiat-Chrysler, GM, and Toyota sided with the White House — calling for a national standard that is now weakened.

Volvo told Reuters that its deal with California “will serve as a national path forward.”

An analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund projects that the weaker standards will produce 1.5 billion additional metric tons of climate-warming pollution by 2040, about as much as 68 coal plants running for five years. The analysis also projects that the new rules will contribute to more than a quarter-million asthma attacks by mid-century.

Electrek’s Take

Five car companies have taken the side of perhaps the country’s most consequential environmental rules.

Fiat-Chrysler, GM, and Toyota remain stubbornly in favor of the Trump administration. GM is forced to twist logic into a pretzel to justify its stance.

Following Trump’s watering down of national vehicle efficiency rules last week, Ford doubled down on its commitment to California. Bob Holycross, Ford’s vice president of sustainability, environment, and safety engineering, said:

We remain committed to meeting emission reductions consistent with the California framework and continue to believe this path is what’s best for our customers, the environment, and the short- and long-term health of the auto industry.

We can practically write off Fiat-Chrysler and Toyota when it comes to EVs. But General Motors last month unveiled 10 robust electric vehicles in one day. Besides, Trump picked a fight with GM CEO Mary Barra last month over the company’s production of ventilators.

Barra could make her feelings known to Trump by following Volvo’s move and striking a deal with California. At the same time, GM would be taking a firm stand in support of the environment and its future electric vehicles.

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Avatar for Bradley Berman Bradley Berman

Bradley writes about electric cars, autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and other tech that’s transforming society. He contributes to The New York Times, SAE International, Via magazine, Popular Mechanics, MIT Technology Review, and others.