Stellantis Agrees to Stick With California Clean-Air Regulations

The agreement with the California Air Resources Board represents a break with the past for Stellantis and Fiat Chrysler, its principal unit in North America, which had opposed tighter regulations for light-duty vehicles.

Joseph Szczesny

April 2, 2024

4 Min Read
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Stellantis is promising under an agreement with the California Air Resources Board to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new light-duty vehicles and to maintain a commitment to zero-emissions technology, including investments in charging infrastructure, regardless of future changes in Washington, DC.

According to the pact signed with CARB, the automaker will comply with California’s zero-emissions light-duty vehicle sales requirements through 2030 even if the state is unable to enforce its standards as a result of judicial or federal action. Fifty percent of the light-duty vehicles sold in California must use zero-emissions technology by 2030, according to CARB.

“Together, we have found a win-win solution that is good for the customer and good for the planet,” Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares says in a statement announcing the pact with CARB.

“This agreement will avoid 10 to 12 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) over the lifetime of the agreement and will also allow our U.S. customers to fully benefit from our advanced technologies, including five plug-in hybrids and two pure-electric vehicles,” Tavares adds. “We remain as determined as ever to offer sustainable options across our brand portfolio and being a leader in the global decarbonization efforts.”

The agreement with CARB represents a break with the past for Stellantis and Fiat Chrysler, its principal unit in North America which, under its old CEO, the late Sergio Marchionne, had opposed tighter regulations for light-duty vehicles. Marchionne was an outspoken critic of California’s rules.

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In 2020, the Trump Admin. attacked California and CARB’s grip on the standards for greenhouse gas emissions, particulate emissions and fuel-economy regulations. But the effort faltered when a group of automakers, including BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and Volvo, agreed to abide by CARB’s rules.

According to CARB, the agreement Stellantis signed is identical to the original framework adopted by the other automakers four years ago. More than a dozen other states follow California’s lead on emission regulations.

Trump, however, is promising to challenge California’s ability to determine its GHG standards if he reclaims the White House in November.

Historically, California, the nation’s single largest vehicle market and the primary engine of car culture, has been the source of clean-air regulations for more than a half-century. Its unique role has been upheld in federal court despite challenges by Detroit’s automakers and the state’s own car dealers.

The American Lung Assn., which tracks air quality developments, notes: “Californians have long enjoyed the benefits of strong clean air policies. Ongoing policy efforts remain critical because California is home to the most difficult air pollution burdens in the United States – over 90% of people live in an area impacted by unhealthy air.”

CARB spokesman Dave Clegern says in an email to WardsAuto: “The agreement gives Stellantis flexibility in how they meet California's existing greenhouse gas emissions vehicle requirements. This provides the automaker with regulatory certainty so they can make plans according to their business needs. In exchange for this flexibility, Stellantis will provide additional GHG emissions reductions and California gets commitments for its regulations.”

Says CARB Executive Officer Steven Cliff: “California’s persistent air pollution and the growing threat of climate change require action and innovation, and our collaboration with Stellantis is an example of the industry partnerships that will further a clean air future. Collaborations like this ensure healthier air for Californians and a clear path forward toward our zero-emissions goals.”

Stellantis will extend its educational programs specific to zero-emissions vehicles as well as invest $4 million in California to deploy public charging infrastructure in places such as tribal areas and in federal, state, and county parks, plus an additional $6 million in other states that have adopted California’s GHG emissions standards for these model years.

CARB has entered similar agreements with other vehicle manufacturers. In July, CARB signed a “Clean Truck Partnership” with the nation’s leading medium- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers to accelerate deployment of zero-emission options.

Last year, CARB notes, California reached two key milestones, including that one of four vehicles sold in the state was zero-emissions, and a goal to reach 1.5 million zero-emissions car sales was met two years ahead of schedule. Under the state’s Advanced Clean Cars II rule, 100% of new-car sales will be zero-emissions by 2035.

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