Rivals Tesla And Rivian Have Joined To Fight The Feds

Tesla is ready to launch its all-electric pickup truck this week. Its rival electric truck manufacturer is Rivian. But in a surprising move, the two companies have announced they have joined up in a lawsuit to fight the Trump administration. The reason they are doing this is a simple one.

The two electric vehicle manufacturers have formed the National Coalition for Advanced Transport (NCAT). The coalition has been announced to fight the Trump administration for revoking California’s rights to set its own emissions standards. This has been a back and forth process for months and is continuing to develop new and more complex implications.

Besides Tesla and Rivian others have joined

Tailpipe Emissions | Getty
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Besides Tesla and Rivian there are a number of other companies that have joined. They include ChargePoint Inc. and Plug-In America, both charging equipment manufacturers, and Pacific Gas and Electric. Of course, PG&E has been making headlines for shutting off electricity to millions of homes in California. But California’s goal is to see the state move toward a zero-emissions environment. So PG&E’s involvement was expected.

Since the 1960s, which predates the EPA, California has had the authority to control emissions of vehicles entering the state. When the EPA was first set up in the early 1970s it even adopted California’s standards. 

Two lawsuits have been filed to fight feds

Currently, there are two lawsuits that have been filed against the EPA and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. California and 22 other states are part of the lawsuits, and now so is the NCAT. The Trump administration is directing the EPA and NHTSA to eliminate the waiver in the Clean Air Act that allows California to set its own standards for emissions. 

From the NCAT filing, “NHTSA’s purported elimination of state authority through the Preemption Regulation adversely affects the marketplace for transportation electrification and deployment of advanced vehicle technologies across the country-undermining business opportunities for utilities, manufacturers, and infrastructure companies.”

Smog | Getty
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California arranged an agreement with Ford, BMW, Volkswagen and Honda to build vehicles around the California standards. Toyota, GM, and Fiat-Chrysler publicly support the Trump administration’s efforts. Yesterday California announced it would no longer allow its agencies to purchase vehicles from the manufacturers siding with the administration. California purchased more than $27 million in vehicles from GM last year alone.

Climate issues at Tesla and Rivian core

Now, besides climate issues being the core of Tesla’s and Rivian’s vehicles, they have upped their game to also fight laws undermining that core. Taking on the administration to advance environmental causes should boost their images and presence. 

It is expected this will ultimately end up with the Supreme Court. Being a conservative body, it will be interesting to see their conclusion. One of the tenets of the conservative movement is that states have rights to self govern. Conversely, those in favor of the administration’s efforts see this as following the Constitution. They cite the granting to the federal government to regulate commerce. But some argue this isn’t about commerce but about safety and health. 

As you can see it’s a complex situation that could go in favor of either side. The coalition is just another piece of the ever more complex environmental puzzle.