Posted on July 03, 2018 by Matt Pressman
When Elon Musk triumphantly took to Twitter to announce Tesla hit its quarterly production goals, he wrote: "7000 cars, 7 days ♥︎ Tesla Team ♥︎." Quick to pour cold water on the celebration was Steve Armstrong, Ford's European boss. Armstrong replied to Musk on Twitter: "7000 cars, circa 4 hours. ♥︎ Ford Team ♥︎." Ummm, defensive anyone?
Above: Two companies with vastly different philosophies about electric vehicles (Image: Petrolhead)
Perhaps there's a reason legacy automakers like Ford are getting a bit prickly about the success of Tesla and the rise of electric vehicles. According to Jeremy Deaton (via CleanTechnica / Nexus Media), the "astonishing hypocrisy of Ford" and other legacy automakers is evident as they continue to tout electric cars while supporting efforts to weaken fuel economy standards.
On the one hand, "Ford plans to build 40 different models of electric vehicles by 2022." On the other hand, Ford's former CEO was aggressively "arguing that consumers aren’t interested in electric cars." Companies like Ford and other legacy automakers "are talking out of both sides of their mouths."
Deaton notes,"automakers are pouring money into electric vehicles, recognizing that strict limits on pollution will drive consumer demand for EVs overseas [in markets like China]. At the same time, car manufacturers are fighting similar policies in the United States on the grounds that limiting pollution won’t allow them to keep up with consumer demand."
Above: The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers works to weaken fuel efficiency standards — even as automakers develop new electric cars to be sold overseas (Youtube:
Looking back, “Ford and its trade association, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, wasted no time rushing to Washington after President Trump’s election. They sent him and his transition team their deregulation wishlist, which included the clean car standards,” according to Madeline Page, clean cars program coordinator for Public Citizen.
And Ford isn't the only one. Other legacy automakers "have [also] fought to allow cars and trucks to pollute more.... Through their participation in the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, ostensibly climate-conscious car companies like Volvo, Volkswagen and Toyota have also pushed the Trump administration to ease limits on pollution and cast doubt on climate science."
In a defensive blog post, Ford executives had insisted, “We support increasing clean car standards through 2025 and are not asking for a rollback.” At the time, advocates like Madeline Page weren’t buying it.
Above: The “dirty Ford” in Washington, DC (Source: CleanTechnica via DC Action Lab)
“Ford touts a green image and has pledged support for climate programs. Its chairman, Bill Ford, proclaims climate change an urgent problem, and yet Ford is working with the Trump administration to undo the biggest protection program for climate on the books in this country,” Page said. “On the one hand, they love to earn media praise for making clean car announcements, while at the same time they’re working to roll back the very standards that will actually ensure that we have clean air to breathe and a healthy climate for future generations.”
So how did this all unfold? Page turned out to be right. Efforts from Ford and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers eventually prevailed. In April, it was reported that, "The Trump Administration is cutting Obama-era fuel efficiency regulations."
In response, Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund said, "No one in America is eager to buy a car that gets worse gas mileage and spews more pollution from its tailpipe." Nevertheless, there is an automaker in America eager to sell them that car — and it's not Tesla.