Nissan says no to Trump’s indecent fuel efficiency proposal

Kawaguchi and McLain

“We are not going to relax,” said Nissan’s Chief Sustainability Officer Hitoshi Kawaguchi, when Wall Street Journal’s Tokyo reporter Sean McLain asked him today in Yokohama whether Trump’s fuel efficiency rollback would impact Nissan’s plans to reduce consumption and hence emissions of its cars by 40% until 2022.

 “We will not change,” continued Kawaguchi. “In the U.S., there already is a major disparity between the views of the Federal Government and the State of California. The U.S. is not alone in the world. There are Chinese standards, there are European standards. If you look at it globally, without hesitation the direction is electrification and zero emission.”

Global automakers most likely will go in the same direction as Nissan. As Kawaguchi indicated, they have no other choice. Automakers can hardly continue producing gas guzzlers for the United States, while  developing ever more fuel-efficient cars for all of the world, including California and the states aligned with its policies.  For Detroit, the matter is a little different.  Ford and GM are step by step withdrawing from many global markets, and especially from the emerging kind, to focus on making profits and gas guzzlers at home.

Freed from the yoke of fuel efficiency mandates, Ford and GM would make ever bigger, ever thirstier, and ever more lucrative trucks that sell well only in certain parts of America. Ford and GM would lose their last shred of competitiveness in world markets. Once pump prices shoot up, and Trump’s pyromaniac Middle East policy might see to that, Detroit will have no product to sell to people who suddenly want small and frugal.  Even without an oil crisis, Trump’s proposal would result in additional fuel costs of “$193 billion to $236 billion cumulatively between now and 2035” depending on oil prices, wrote the New York Times.  

No wonder that even Detroit does not quite look forward to Trump’s present. “We are not asking the administration for a rollback,” Ford Chairman Bill Ford said.