Ford has joined with three other automakers in siding with California’s ability to determine its own automobile emission standards, taking sides in a key fight with the Trump administration, which has sought to overrule those standards. The new Mustang Mach-E it just unveiled is a key reinforcement of Ford’s commitment, and it may help explain why it threw its cards in with the Golden State.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Ford would need to boost its fleet wide average fuel economy to nearly 50 miles per gallon by 2026 under the California rules at a time when it’s sunsetting all of its fuel-efficient small cars, like the Focus and Fiesta. The company has established a goal of having full-electric vehicles comprise a third of its overall sales by 2030, up from zero today.
The White House is currently fighting in court to revoke California’s right to establish its own strict tailpipe emissions regulations and zero-emissions vehicle mandates. Twenty-two states joined California in suing the Trump administration over the issue. Ford has sided with Honda, BMW and Volkswagen in supporting California’s position.
That position was underlined, the Times reports, when Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. posed for a photograph with Mary Nichols, the chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, at the Mach-E launch event on Nov. 17.
It makes sense that Ford, which has sunk years of development work and second-guessing of itself into its forthcoming battery-electric crossover, would want to preserve the regulatory certainty. Left unsaid in the story is the role that the stricter regulations could play in juicing demand for electric vehicles, which still comprise only about 2% of the overall U.S. vehicle market. California is the biggest U.S. market for EVs; the L.A. Times previously reported that EV sales rose nearly 64% during the first half of 2019 and accounted for almost half of all electric vehicles sold nationwide, though they’re still only 5.5% of the state's auto market.
Ford is also working on hybrid and full-electric versions of its best-selling F-150 pickup truck, the former due late next year, and it has also pledged a plug-in hybrid version of the Escape crossover next year. For now, it also offers the Fusion Energi PHEV.