California Banning Purchase of Toyota, GM, Other Brands Opposing CARB's Emissions Rules

The California Air Resources Board, or CARB, is California's clean-air agency, founded by then-governor Ronald Regan back in 1967 in order to combat the state's then critical smog problem.

Evan Williams By: Evan Williams November 27, 2019

The fight between California and the U.S. Federal Government over emissions is heating up, and state lawmakers are now looking at banning the purchase of cars from several automakers, including Toyota and GM, who have chosen the side of the feds.

The California Air Resources Board, or CARB, is California’s clean-air agency, founded by then-governor Ronald Regan back in 1967 in order to combat the state’s then critical smog problem. One of the board’s most significant accomplishments was introducing the first NOx emissions standards for vehicles in the country, with California already introducing the first tailpipe standards in 1966. In short, CARB is the biggest part of why modern vehicles are as clean as they are, and the state has long had emissions and zero-emissions vehicle requirements far stricter than the federal standard. Those standards have been adopted by several other states, and California has partnered with Quebec to link their cap and trade emissions programs.

Under President Trump, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been working to roll back automotive emissions standards, most recently phasing out the clean air changes made by the Obama administration that were set to significantly increase fleet average fuel economy over the coming years.

California was the only state that was permitted to set its own standards. Until Trump announced a plan to cancel the state’s waiver, ordering it to follow federal practice.

One group of automakers, including Ford, VW, Honda, and BMW, made a deal with California to agree to set and follow tougher emissions standards regardless of the White House’s efforts, prompting a series of Presidential tweets.

Another group, the Association of Global Automakers, a trade group that includes Toyota, FCA, and General Motors, said that its members would side with the President, agreeing with revoking California’s ability to set stricter standards.

In reaction, the state issued a statement saying that as of January, it will only buy vehicles from automakers that recognize CARB’s authority and that it pledged to do business only with automakers committed to tough emissions reductions goals. That means no more GM, FCA, Toyota, and Nissan vehicles will be purchased by the state.

In a separate statement, the state said that it would no longer buy internal-combustion-only sedans, regardless of the maker. That rule has certain exceptions, like police cars, and doesn’t apply to SUVs or trucks.

How much of a pinch does this put on those automakers? Reuters reported that from 2016 to 2018, the state purchased approximately US $134 million worth of vehicles from the companies who will fall under the ban. The plan could even stop California from buying EVs made by those brands.

Car makers that have chosen to be on the wrong side of history will be on the losing end of California’s buying power,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom in a statement. “In court, and in the marketplace, California is standing up to those who put short-term profits ahead of our health and our future.”