US probes carmakers over California emissions deal
The US Department of Justice has launched a probe into whether a vehicle-emissions pact between California and four automakers violated antitrust laws, according to US media reports.
In July, the four car manufacturers — BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen — reached a deal with the California Air Resources Board to boost gas mileage standards and cut emissions, splitting from an effort by the Trump administration to ease Obama-era federal standards.
The justice department’s investigation is looking at whether the companies broke competition law by agreeing with each other to back California’s set of emissions rules, the Wall Street Journal first reported on Friday.
Ford confirmed that it received a letter from the justice department, adding that it “will co-operate with respect to any inquiry”.
Honda said it “will work cooperatively with the Department of Justice with regard to the recent emissions agreement reached between the State of California and various automotive manufacturers, including Honda.”
BMW and Volkswagen did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The DoJ declined to comment.
Automakers operating in the US have urged regulators to create one set of national emissions standards. But California and the Trump administration have been locked in a battle over the issue, as California has pushed forward with an agreement that loosens requirements championed by the Obama administration but sets fuel-economy targets that are expected to be tougher than the Trump plan.
US President Donald Trump has been highly critical of California’s deal with the four automakers, saying last month: “Henry Ford would be very disappointed if he saw his modern-day descendants wanting to build a much more expensive car, that is far less safe and doesn’t work as well, because execs don’t want to fight California regulators.”
Additional reporting by Kiran Stacey and Peter Campbell.