US government shutdown threatens new car model rollouts

Automakers are concerned that the US government shutdown could delay the roll out of their new vehicle models in the United States as the companies cannot get the required certifications from the EPA.  Getty Images photo by Martin H. Simon.

US government shutdown into its 34th day

Automakers in the United States are growing more concerned that the partial US government shutdown will but the brakes on the roll out of new models because the companies will not be able to get the required certifications from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The shutdown is now 34 days old and has left 800,000 federal agency workers without pay, impacting a wide range of services, including access to national parks, airline security and the release of economic data.

About 95 per cent of EPA staff has been furloughed, including workers at the agency’s lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which verifies emissions data for new automotive models to ensure the vehicles comply with clean air laws.

According to Reuters, GM has not suffered any launch delays.  But, Jeannine Ginivan, GM spokeswoman told Reuters “like other automakers, we are currently awaiting decisions in the certification process for a few model year 2019 and 2020 vehicles”.

Last week at the Detroit Auto Show, Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Mike Manley told Reuters that the shutdown has delayed the final certification of his company’s new RAM 3500 heavy-duty pickup truck.

Officials at Ford said some of their roll outs could be delayed if the shutdown carries on for another 30 days.

“As the shutdown continues, these certification delays will affect U.S. vehicle production. Consumers will also not have access to the latest technologies and sales could decline as a result,” Global Automakers, an industry trade group told Reuters.

Stanley Meiburg, former acting administrator of the EPA told Reuters that while automakers usually seek certifications well in advance of introducing their vehicles to the market, the government shutdown could impact automakers if it goes on for much longer.

“Any disruptions to this part of the process will disrupt the entire supply chain,” said Meiburg.

The EPA did not comment on the Reuters story.

US President Donald Trump is refusing to sign any legislation to re-open the government unless it includes $5.7 billion for the proposed border wall with Mexico.  Meanwhile, the Democrats argue that the wall is costly, antiquated and there are better ways to boost national security and cut down on illegal immigration.




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