And they should listen.
The state of California made a bold political and environmental decision in September. An executive order was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on the hood of a Ford Mustang Mach-E declaring the state's plan to ban sales of new passenger vehicles with internal combustion engines beyond 2035. This gives automakers barely 15 years to electrify their entire lineup if they wish to continue doing business in America's most populated state. Ford couldn't be happier with this decision and wants rival automakers to back it as well.
Reuters reports the Dearborn, Michigan-based company is now urging automakers to support California's new zero-emissions standards as part of an industry-wide bid to reach a consensus on the matter before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20, 2021.
Ford's crosstown rival, General Motors, announced last week it no longer supports the Trump administration's continued efforts to prevent California from deciding its own emissions laws. Originally, GM joined with Toyota and FCA in support of Trump. Meanwhile, BMW, Honda, and Volkswagen agreed with Ford's position regarding the Golden State. Several major automakers are set to have a virtual meeting this week to discuss their next steps and Ford's message is loud and clear.
Ford Americas President Kumar Galhorta recently wrote the following: "The Biden Administration will not let the Trump standards stand, and either by way of litigation and/or a regulatory reboot, the new team will move in a different, more stringent direction."
In other words, it'd be pointless to resist California's new rules because the incoming administration is expected to support them. Might as well start preparing for the inevitable. California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols also believes the state's emissions rules could serve as the basis for new federal standards.
It is in the automakers' short- and long-term interest to form a consensus on this matter because the switch to electrification takes time, money, and serious planning. The sooner they start the better. In addition to GM's about-face last week, CEO Mary Barra revealed a plan to launch at least 30 EVs globally over the next five years with an investment of $27 billion. Over two-thirds of those new EVs will be for the US.