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Drivers Tell Automakers to Side with Clean Air, Not Trump

Luke Tonachel's picture

Since joining NRDC in 2004, Luke Tonachel has focused on reducing the environmental impact of the transportation sector. His work has encouraged governments to adopt policies that advance clean...

  • Member since 2018
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  • Sep 2, 2020

Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, and Toyota can build the cleaner cars that consumers demand—or they can continue to risk their profits while putting our health and climate in danger.

A General Motors assembly line in Orion Township, Michigan

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

In an outpouring of frustration, disappointment, and anger, more than 285,000 drivers sent messages to Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Toyota, and other automakers demanding that they drop their support of the Trump administration’s dangerous rollback of clean car and fuel economy standards.

NRDC supporters alone wrote 53,361 messages to these companies, with many saying they wouldn’t support companies opposing cleaner cars. We forwarded our supporters’ messages to top executives of Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota. Here’s a sample of what those upset car owners said:

“I don’t need a car for the next several months and had intended to purchase a new Prius in mid-2020. However, I am so deeply disappointed by your decision to support this rollback that I have changed my decision. Unless you change your position, I will purchase from one of the auto manufacturers for whom clean car standards is more of an imperative.”


“I demand that you get your ‘corporate responsibility’ act together; reverse course and drop support for President Trump's misguided attempt to roll back the clean car standards. I call on your company to immediately withdraw from litigation against strong state clean car standards and instead invest in INNOVATION rather than hide behind litigation. We need cleaner cars, not Trump's indefensible and dangerous rollback—and not your irresponsible corporate attack on our environment.”


“Society has entrusted you with a great responsibility—please exercise it for the people's benefit and your own (you will not be successful as a global supplier if you don't get ahead of this). I for one will not consider your products for transportation until you become responsible actors.”


“My wife and I have been loyal Toyota owners for over 20 years, but no longer. I am disgusted that Toyota, GM, and Fiat Chrysler caved in to go along with Trump's fight with California and other states who have taken the lead in fighting climate change by instituting more stringent fuel economy standards for motor vehicles. You and the other two automakers chose short-term profit over what is good for the future of the globe. Shame on you. My next car will be a Ford!”


Five major automakers, including BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and Volvo, are defying the Trump administration by signing agreements with California and other states to sell cleaner cars nationally.

The Trump rollback is unjustified and illegal. On behalf of our members and supporters, we are suing the Trump administration and expect this dangerous plan to be tossed out. However, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Toyota, and six other companies have joined the suit on the side of Trump.

The clean car standards were rigorously developed to put America and the auto industry on a sustainable economic path while reducing our dependence on oil and protecting public health and welfare. They lead to innovation that creates American jobs, saves drivers money at the pump, and reduces toxic air pollution. With transportation now the largest source of carbon pollution in our nation, they are also the single-largest action the federal government has taken to address climate change.

But under the Trump administration rules, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s own calculations, automobile carbon pollution will increase by at least 867 million metric tons as a result of the rollback, the equivalent of the annual emissions from more than 200 coal plants. And the rollback would cost consumers an additional $176 billion at the pump.

Americans overwhelmingly support strong clean car and fuel economy standards, not the Trump rollback. Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, and Toyota can still drop their rollback support and build the cars that consumers demand, or they can continue to risk their profits while putting our health and climate in danger. It’s their choice. 

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