Apparently the latest neat thing governments have found that they can use the climate change boogeyman for is to enforce protectionism on automobile makers. After U.S. regulators accused Volkswagen of cheating on their emissions tests, German regulators have now accused both U.S. and Japenese carmakers of doing the same:
According to the German auto regulator Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA), 50 diesel models from 23 carmakers are being tested under the suspicion they also used the emissions-evading software. This includes Ford and General Motors, two of America’s best-known car manufacturers.
It’s hard not to detect a touch of schadenfreude in play: American regulators go after Volkswagen, Germany’s national brand, so, in turn, German regulators go after two prominent American car builders. But KBA’s inquiry also includes Japanese companies Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Toyota, as well as French carmakers Renault and Peugeot. German companies BMW and Mercedes are also being investigated.
Here is the reality – for years, the regulatory agencies of various Western governments have been promulgating a series of increasingly draconian regulations on automobile emissions that are asinine and completely unrelated to the protection of the public health. They have done this via regulations that have (in the case of U.S. agencies) clearly exceeded their statutory authority as originally contemplated under the Clean Air Act. And, it appears, the regulatory agencies in question are now using these to engage in a quasi-trade war.
If it should be revealed that the automakers and/or their unions were behind the pressure to engage in these investigations, you could knock me over with a feather.
My family bought a Volkswagen Passat earlier this year. It’s a great car; probably the best one I’ve ever owned. I’m summarily unconcerned with this ridiculous gotcha game except to the extent that it makes the purchase of my next Passat (which might be very soon indeed) cheaper.