‘Clean Cars’ at LA Auto Show, Even as Some Fight Emissions Standards

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
Photo Credit: Consumer Reports

LOS ANGELES – Clean cars are a hot topic at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, even though consumer watchdogs claim some car makers are playing a double game. The car companies are touting their “green” vehicles at the same time they support President Donald Trump’s decision to loosen federal emissions standards.

Shannon Baker-Branstetter, manager of cars and energy policy at Consumer Reports, said she doesn’t believe automakers’ claim that they want one clear national emissions standard.

“They had one national standard, and they asked the Trump administration to roll back those standards,” she said, “and now, we have chaos.”

Not all carmakers are on board with the president’s policy. In July, the state of California announced that BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen all have agreed to voluntarily install clean-car technology and bring more clean cars and electric vehicles to market. The Trump administration wants to rescind a waiver that lets states pass stricter emission standards, which is the position taken by Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors and Toyota.

Baker-Branstetter complained that there is a big disconnect between some of the manufacturers’ public stands and their actions.

“While automakers are trying to sell greener vehicles and have a green image,” she said, “some of them are undermining that by what they’re doing with their lobbying money, and by siding with the Trump administration to roll back emission standards.”

The Justice Department is investigating B-M-W, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen, alleging anti-competitive behavior. Consumer groups charge that it’s retaliation for signing the agreement with California. More than a dozen states have signed onto the framework to become “clean-car states.”

The auto show runs through Sunday at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Details of the California agreement are online at arb.ca.gov, and information on the auto show is at laautoshow.com.