Automakers at Detroit show push fuel efficiency deal: ‘Time is running out’

Executives at the major U.S. automakers are pressing the Trump administration and California to agree on standards for fuel efficiency and carbon emissions through 2025, as risks increase that a deadline for setting national standards will pass without a deal.

Automakers are already entering the timeframe when decisions should be made about what engines and fuel-saving technology, such as hybrids or fully electric cars, will be in use in 2021 and beyond, executives said.

In August, the Trump administration proposed freezing fuel efficiency requirements at 2020 levels through 2025 and stripping California of the ability to impose stricter rules. The administration may also eliminate compliance credits that automakers get for making electric vehicles.

Trump’s proposed freeze would result in 500,000 barrels per day more oil consumption by the 2030s. The administration says it would reduce regulatory costs for automakers by more than $300 billion over the next decade. The petroleum industry pushed for the freeze proposal, which the automakers do not favor.

A group of about 20 U.S. states, led by California, has challenged the administration proposal as unlawful and promised to sue if federal regulators move forward with the freeze.

The administration is supposed to finalize the new rules by the end of March in order for the softer requirements to take effect by the 2021 model year, but some automakers and officials question if it will meet that deadline in the wake of the partial government shutdown.