Is there already cause for concern?
It might be hard to connect the two issues at first, but the current federal government shutdown and new vehicles launches do have a direct relationship. By law, all new vehicles must undergo emissions testing according to regulations set by the Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency will then make final approval. It’s a process automakers, both domestic and international, are intimately familiar with but as with many things in this industry, approval can take some time. As Automotive News has learned, it may now take even longer.
Speaking with Ford’s president of global markets, Jim Farley, AN was told there could be potential launch delays for new models like the new 2020 Ford Explorer, upcoming redesigned Escape, and the Lincoln Aviator. "We’re all waiting in lines,” Farley said. "Every new vehicle has to get certified through the government. If that gets backed up, so do the launches.”
Fortunately, Ford does not have any new models scheduled to launch over the next few months, but given that the shutdown is now in its fourth week, some uncertainty is beginning to grow. "Thankfully, ours (launches) are positioned more in the spring and summer,” Farley added. "I don’t know what’s going to happen. If this continues… who knows?”
General Motors also admitted it’s currently awaiting EPA certification decisions for new vehicles and engines, but declined to comment on how many 2020 model year cars and trucks are involved. Fortunately, a GM spokesperson confirmed this lack of EPA certification has not yet impacted operations. But, again, as Farley noted, if this shutdown continues then there could be problems ahead. Every year, the EPA certifies about 1,200 vehicles.
Automakers have to test their own new vehicles and then submit those findings to the EPA for a complete review. The EPA then randomly selects about 200 of those vehicles for further verification testing at an engine laboratory. Vehicles not randomly selected would also be delayed from going on sale as well, so automakers’ concerns about the shutdown are justifiable.