California joins boycott of Trump-allied automakers

Following the disappointing decision by Toyota, GM and Fiat Chrysler to side with the Trump administration’s campaign to strip California of its authority to set stringent fuel economy standards, some pundits and influencers began calling for a boycott.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich tweeted, “Toyota, goodbye. The environmental goodwill you’ve built by pioneering hybrid cars has vanished in your choice of Trump over California. #toyotatrump.” The post was quickly re-tweeted 2,700 times, as ordinary folks starting registering their rage at Toyota for squandering the years’ worth of green cred it had gained by producing the Prius.

Others who have weighed in with calls for a boycott include the editorial board of New Jersey’s Star-Ledger, the League of Conservation Voters, and lefty filmmaker Michael Moore.

The other two automakers who signed onto the legal action in support of Trump’s plan to freeze fuel economy standards are of course equally blameworthy, but the online ire seems to be mostly directed at Toyota, which has long been considered one of the greenest automakers thanks to the pioneering and popular Prius.

Auto execs aren’t likely to lose much sleep over what Michael Moore thinks of their policies. However, the latest news may make them wonder if they’ve backed the wrong side in the emissions war. California’s Department of General Services announced that, starting in January, state agencies will no longer buy vehicles from carmakers that haven’t agreed to follow the state’s clean air standards.

According to CalMatters, California  spent over $27 million on Chevrolet passenger vehicles, $11 million on Fiat Chrysler vehicles, and $3.6 million on Toyotas in 2018.

Also, state agencies will no longer buy gas-powered sedans, effective immediately (public safety vehicles are exempt from the ban). A few months ago, state legislators considered, but did not pass, a law that would have restricted the state’s clean car rebates only to vehicles from automakers that agreed to follow the state’s rules.

“The state is finally making the smart move away from internal combustion engine sedans,” Governor Gavin Newsom told CalMatters. “Carmakers that have chosen to be on the wrong side of history will be on the losing end of California’s buying power.”

Sources: CalMatters, Electrek