California announced on Friday that it will no longer buy fleet vehicles from General Motors, Toyota, FCA, and other automakers that sided with the President last month when his administration challenged the state's authority to regulate vehicle emissions.
The state spent more than $27 million on GM passenger vehicles alone in 2018, CalMatters reports, which accounts for nearly 37 percent of the $74 million the state spent on its new passenger-vehicle fleet. Chevrolet alone accounted for more than 38 percent of the 2,700 passenger cars the state purchased in 2018, followed by Ford (just over 26 percent) and FCA's Ram (more than 11 percent).
In line with previous announcements, the state also included with Friday's release that it will no longer be buying gasoline-powered sedans, although other types of vehicles may be hybrid or internal-combustion. The state aims to cut petroleum use by 50 percent from 2015 to 2030 and overall greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 to 2030.
California's boycott may seem trivial, as the thousand or so sales lost will mean little to GM's accounting department; however, it could have a ripple effect, prompting not only states that mimic California's emissions guidelines to follow suit, but also encouraging local governments and business/non-profit organizations to join in as well—or perhaps corporations minding their sustainability claims.
California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols (via Twitter)
Perhaps more significantly, the state could move to curtail the sales of vehicles with internal-combustion engines, or even move to ban them outright. In remarks to a May forum, California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols said the state could pursue "extreme measures" if it is stripped of its ability to regulate the fuel efficiency of vehicles sold there.
While Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, BMW and others have aligned with California and 22 other states in an effort to preserve Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, General Motors, Toyota and FCA are among those who have sided with the Trump administration, which is calling for something just short of a hard freeze on the annual efficiency increases currently in place.
The administration originally called for freezing fuel efficiency increases, claiming that increased efficiency adds prohibitive cost to new cars, making it more difficult for consumers to purchase newer, safer automobiles, dubbing it the "Safer Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule," even though it really had nothing to do with promoting efficiency.