Ford defends emissions deal with California after Trump criticism

Ford defended its decision to circumvent the Trump administration and back a deal with California for stricter fuel economy standards after the president lobbed a series of attacks against the automaker on Wednesday.

“Ford is proud to lead the way in taking the right actions for the environment while at the same time protecting consumer affordability and the short- and long-term health of the industry,” the Detroit-based company said in a statement on Thursday. “As always, we will continue to produce  ever cleaner, smarter and safer vehicles.”

The response came one day after President Trump criticized automakers for not backing the White House’s plan to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency rules, singling out Ford in particular.

“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,” Trump said in a series of tweets. 

At the end of July, Ford, BMW, Honda and Volkswagen -- flouting the White House -- reached an agreement with California to raise standards governing gas mileage and emissions in the state.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
F FORD MOTOR CO. 13.78 +0.07 +0.51%
HNDAF HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD. 30.08 -0.34 -1.13%
VWAGY VOLKSWAGEN AG 31.388 -0.29 -0.92%

"Ensuring that America's vehicles are efficient, safe and affordable is a priority for us all," the companies said in a statement.

Under the agreement, cars would have until 2026 to produce cars that reach a minimum of 50 miles per gallon. Trump wants to maintain the current standard of 37 mpg until 2026.

General Motors, which previously sent a letter to the Trump administration in favor of one national standard to avoid potentially lengthy litigation, said on Thursday it continues to prefer one national policy, rather than a patchwork. Because it did not sign the deal, however, a GM spokesperson said it did not believe Trump's tweet was directed at the company.

"Our focus remains on working with all parties on a solution that would involve a 50-state solution and a national electric vehicle program," the company said.

Negotiations between the White House and California, however, remain at a stalemate as the state tries to set a stricter standard than desired by Trump, who previously threatened to remove California’s ability to independently set its own standards.