The “California Tax” on all US motorists

Eric Peters points out the effect of California’s ecological dictates about vehicles on the rest of the country – particularly our wallets.

California regulators have acquired de facto control over the cars you’re allowed to buy – even if you don’t live in California – by decreeing their own California-specific mileage and emissions standards. These end up having the force of national standards because the car industry – which wants to sell cars in California – can’t afford to build cars for just California and then another set of cars for the rest of the country.

So they build all their cars to meet California’s standards – which are even more corseting then federal (national) standards.

The cost of complying with them amounts to a “California Tax” levied on everyone – including those who don’t live in California.

It is literally taxation without representation – as well as legitimate justification.

And the state just raised taxes – again.

By issuing a fatwa that all new cars sold in California must average at least 50 miles-per-gallon by 2026. Several major car companies – including Ford, Honda, VW and BMW have already bent knee.

. . .

There will be fewer vehicles available nationally that don’t meet California’s MPG fatwa because it be harder for the car companies to internally justify building them when they’re not able to sell them (without repercussions) in one of the country’s biggest markets.

But the rest of the country isn’t California – and can’t vote in California. Why should the rest of the country be subject to what California decrees?

. . .

California has thus acquired de facto regulatory control over the entire country – and, effectively the power to tax American drivers in every state to pay for what the state of California decrees.

This taxation without representation is about to increase … California’s fatwa that all cars sold in the state average 50 miles-per-gallon by 2026 will effectively mean that cars sold in every state must also average 50 miles-per-gallon, because the car companies will have to build them that way if they want to sell cars in California – which they do – and because they can’t afford to build them just for California (and the other states that have adopted California’s standards) and then another batch for everywhere else.

So we will all get California cars – and California costs.

Without having asked for them. Without having been given the chance to say yes – or no – to them.

So much for the consent of the governed.

There’s more at the link.

This is just the latest attempt by California to undermine and nullify the Trump administration’s attempts to ease stringent environmental standards in many areas.

California’s sweeping deal with four major automakers last week to boost gas mileage standards and cut tailpipe emissions wasn’t the first time the Golden State has outmaneuvered the Trump administration, which has been planning instead to loosen pollution rules for car companies nationwide.

Rather than a one-time tactic, the agreement … is the latest in a growing list of ways that California has blunted, blocked or shut down entirely nearly all of the Trump administration’s major efforts to rewrite environmental policies in California from the moment he took office.

Yet more than halfway through his term, experts say, the president has had almost no lasting impact on California’s major environmental rules despite making broad promises and appointing former industry officials into top jobs. The reason: California, a quasi-country with 40 million people and the world’s fifth-largest economy, has been aggressively passing its own state laws, filing lawsuits against the federal government and cutting deals with other states and countries to go around the Trump White House.

Again, more at the link.

I think there’s a simple solution to this problem.  If California insists that manufacturers and others must adhere to its over-the-top environmental standards, then the state of California must pay them for the added costs involved in meeting those standards – in other words, the difference between what it costs (or would cost) to build a widget for the rest of the country, and building that widget for California.  It must pay those costs for all widgets made to California standards, whether or not they’re sold in that state;  and those costs must be borne by California taxpayers, not the rest of us.  If California can’t or won’t pay those costs, then manufacturers must be allowed to sell their non-complying products in California without penalty or hindrance.

Sounds fair to me!

Peter

16 comments

  1. President Trump needs to tell California they can build their own cars or get them from Yugoslavia. These cars cannot be sold anywhere else.

  2. “I’m old enough I can remember when car makers advertised “49 state versions.” (h/t to Glenn Reynolds).

    I wonder if any state has the intestinal fortitude to deny registration for new cars that are not 49-state compliant. Or, for that matter, any cars – Kali transplants will bring their 1-state compliant cars with them. Perhaps those Kali-only cars should remain in Kali.

    The late Brock Yates, writing at Car and Driver pointed out in the ’80s that cars in general, and the 1-state compliant Kali cars in particular, were suitable for use as air purifiers; what came out of the tailpipe of the average early- to mid-’80s car in southern Kali was cleaner than the air that went in, although non-Kali cars weren’t significantly dirtier. Those 1-state compliant cars were also more expensive than the 49-state versions; I wonder what the total dollar difference is now.

    The bigger question, though is: How much longer is America going to put up with California’s tyranny? It ain’t just cars anymore.

  3. JWM, I did invade, way back in the 70’s, and brought my California bride back with me. Back to Texas.

    I was bit in the ass by the Kali-car situation a few years ago. I bought a used 2000 CRV with 40K miles. The requirement for valve adjustment was, according to Kali rules, at 100K miles. At about 90K it started with the “Check Engine” light and testing indicated a problem with ignition. Turns out that in that engine when the valves went out of adjustment they tightened up rather than loosening, damaging the head. A $3000 repair bill which thankfully Honda stepped up and took care of $2000. Same model cars sold in Europe required valve adjustment at, IIRC somewhere around 35K. Thank you Kali…

  4. Easy solution. Stop selling pickup trucks and hummers in Cali and see how long before the elite start to scream. The market IS big enough for specific small engine/hybrids to satisfy them while leaving normal options for the rest of the country. Just look at the option list already available for most vehicle models…and where else are the automakers going to find a willing market for experimental electric vehicles??? Voila, Cali delivered their loss leader market.

  5. There’s an old saying, what cannot continue will not continue.
    Citizens are leaving states such as California, Illinois, and New York in droves.
    Middle class taxpaying citizens.
    As the tax base erodes ever further those states will attempt to even further eat the rich, and when enough of them leave will look to the Federal government to bail them out.
    What should happen is that such states be allowed to suffer the consequences of their stupidity.
    What I hope will happen is that Federal administrators are appointed to oversee all financial decisions in any state receiving such a bailout.
    What I fear will happen is that the states will get their bailouts and having learned nothing in the process will continue their irresponsible practices until the entire country is bankrupt.
    For a perfect example of such behavior just look at what the city of Chicago has done to Illinois, taxing the citizens of what is a mainly rural farming state to support unsustainable welfare and public service union benefits within the city.

  6. If this is really a problem, and I don’t believe it is, there’s an easy solution – have the Federal Government relax mileage and pollution control standards to the point where it’s financially attractive to auto manufacturers to either A) manufacture vehicles specifically for California, or B) stop selling cars in California.

    I’d prefer to see the latter.

  7. To continue with what Uncle Lars said, California is bleeding heavily the very class of people who most buy, and can afford to buy, cars.

    One day, very soon, the financial ability of California to sway the rest of the US will disappear, leaving only lawyers, politicians and activists to scream in frustration.

    As to the car companies, why in the heck do they continue to aid in their own destruction? Already, mandates have priced many cars pretty much out of the ability for anyone but the loan companies to afford.

  8. JMW, start praying for the San Andreas waking up and putting California where it belongs, no longer part of the USA and below sea-level.

  9. This sort of thing was what did a lot to spur the rise in popularity of SUVs. SUVs were counted as trucks, and did not have to deal with as much of the regulations that had been added on for cars.

  10. There’s a simple solution…

    Make one model available to sell in California that meets the requirements. A nice compact sedan should be sufficient.

    Want something else, get your legislators to change the requirements.

  11. I know the matter of voluntary secession has been answered, but is it possible for the other 49 states to vote to expel the PERC from the Union?

  12. Easiest way to avoid the tax is to keep an old car or truck running. Oh you don’t have the skills you say??? WTF are you gonna do when the SHTF??? Are you gonna just give up riding?
    How are you gonna have any powerequipment if you can’t fix it or reengineer the fuel system?
    Get an old car or truck, make it run and keep it running!

  13. Eventually, someone in the car industry will figure out that they can stop the bs, and stop marketing any vehicles to Califrutopia at all, and just drop that segment, and let somebody else make neutered vehicles that run on tofu and wheatgrass farts.
    When people in CA have had enough (and that point exists), they’ll rebel, and dump their socialist overlords, or else get used to a state with crowded slow rail public transportation, and scooters, than looks more like Hanoi or Hong Kong than America.

    And when people stop registering their vehicles, the state is going to be screwed on enforcement. They can’t impound illegal aliens’ vehicles now.

    There is a finite limit to how long such nonsense can go on, and every day, the idiots in charge here get closer to tumbrel carts. They just can’t see it coming.

    It doesn’t take 51% to flip a state, it only takes around 10% who will not comply with things, and it’s effectively chaos beyond redemption at that point.

    We’re headed there at warp speed now.
    I’m stocking up on popcorn.

  14. One of the ways CA screws car owners is they seem to be playing games with catalytic converters. Any car registered in CA, even a former 49 state model, requires a CA certified Cat. Has laser engraved numbers on the housing that a smog tech has to look for when inspecting.

    My car had a 49 state cat installed, and it passed the test, but failed the “visual inspection”. Had to order the CA model, which was identical in size and appearance. Prices seem to range from 50% increase, and higher, for this laser marking bull.

    I’m wondering if the Cat makers are using the CA models for the rest of the country?

    The problem is that they are appreciably smaller in volume of the chamber and the substrate. I calculated it was approximately 67% of the size of the factory cat. My car was a factory turbo, and it killed the throttle response and power, and also lowered the gas mileage.

    I see a similar size reduction in the new dual Cat system on my Ford Ranger. Have not driven it enough to see what effect it has, yet.

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