For a business – or an industry – certainty is a wonderful thing to have. The more constants you have, the easier it is to successfully plan and run your business.
Whether you love the existing EPA fuel-efficiency regulations (CAFE) or not, the fact is that there was certainty. The Obama administration toughened tailpipe pollution standards to match those of California – the nation’s largest car market – which has been trying for decades to stem the pollution that is a result of their car culture. Twelve other states – including our own state of Massachusetts – follow the lead of California. With the Trump administrations stated attempt to roll back these standards, we will be faced with two diametrically opposed viewpoints on a collision course. California and its allies will fight back against this attempt, and we will have years of lawsuits and legal wrangling and uncertainty and turmoil. Manufacturers will not know which standards to design their products for. And the public backlash against those asking for the rollback may well be ugly and damaging, and may tar everyone in the auto business as a result.
This will be awful for our industry.
The automobile business has bounced back from the 2008 recession. Electric and connected cars are on the rise, quality has never been better, and bankruptcies are in the rear view mirror. Times are good. This decision threatens to disrupt a market which is working well for all parties involved, from manufacturers to franchised dealers to consumers.
We here at Village Automotive know climate change is real. We know that the damage to our environment from pollution is real. We believe that the current EPA regulations are an important step in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and in combating climate change. But even if we were agnostics or opponents of the current EPA rules, we still would be reluctant to see certainty replaced with turmoil. We believe that our industry is smart enough and innovative enough to find ways to meet the current standards with practical and cost-effective solutions. After all, our customers are demanding better, more fuel-efficient cars and the industry is delivering them. Moreover, we believe that the US auto market should be looking to the future and leading globally, rather than taking two steps back.
The latest news is not encouraging, but we still hope that cooler heads prevail and that certainty wins out over chaos.