Toyota accepts California’s authority to set emissions standards under Clean Air Act

Toyota has joined the growing list of automakers that have recognized the state of California’s authority to set vehicle emissions standards under the U.S. Clean Air Act. The move will make the Japanese automaker eligible for government fleet purchases by California.

“Toyota continues to share the vision of greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and carbon neutrality goals with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the State of California,” the automaker tweeted Tuesday.

Toyota is certainly singing a different political and environmental tune than it has in the past. In 2019, Toyota was among the group of automakers backing the Trump administration’s efforts to strip California of this very authority to set its own emissions standards. In response, California halted all purchases of new vehicles for state government fleets from Toyota, General Motors and others. Now, the automaker joins the likes of BMW, Ford, Honda, Tesla, Volkswagen, Volvo, and as of January, General Motors who have sworn fealty to California’s air sovereignty and can now line up to try to sell fleet vehicles to the government.

Toyota’s decision to back the state’s vehicle emissions standards comes just as the California Air Resources Board is set to adopt new ones this week. If adopted, the regulations will go to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval. The move also comes as automakers are racing to onshore production of electric vehicles and batteries in order to qualify for incentives from the recently signed into law Inflation Reduction Act, something that Toyota is not immune to.

Last year, Toyota announced new investments totaling $5.1 billion to support electrification efforts in the U.S., including battery production in development. The company has also committed around $473 million this year toward U.S. plants that support the production of hybrid-electric powertrains and engine capacity. By next year, Toyota hopes to start assembling fuel cell modules at its Kentucky plant, which will power heavy-duty trucks and industrial equipment, according to a Toyota spokesperson. The automaker also recently partnered with battery recycling startup Redwood Materials to recycle batteries from its hybrid vehicles in the U.S. and reuse the materials for future electrified vehicle batteries.

Seventeen U.S. states have agreed to adopt California’s tailpipe emissions rules and 15 are adopting the state’s zero-emission vehicle requirements. California aims to ban the sale of new gas-powered passenger cars starting in 2035.

After Trump had tried to remove California’s authority to set its own strict tailpipe and zero-emissions vehicle standards, the EPA in March reinstated the state’s right to do so via a waiver under the Clean Air Act that was awarded to California in 2013. In May, California and 19 other states supported Biden’s efforts to restore California’s authority, a move that was challenged by 17 other states.

Automakers Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Honda and Volvo also backed Biden’s effort to restore California’s authority.

Toyota did not respond in time to TechCrunch’s request for comment.

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