Ford, VW, BMW, and Honda are reportedly the subject of a Justice Department probe over the 50-mpg agreement with California.

Update: Motor1.com has official statements from Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW on this matter. We are still awaiting word from Ford.

Honda:

Honda will work cooperatively with the Department of Justice with regard to the recent emissions agreement reached between the State of California and various automotive manufacturers, including Honda.

Volkswagen:

We are in regular contact with U.S. authorities on a number of matters, but do not comment on specific private communications we may or may not receive.

BMW:

BMW of North America received a letter from the Department of Justice requesting information concerning a planned CARB framework agreement with BMW NA and other OEMs. We look forward to responding to the Department of Justice to explain the planned CARB framework agreement and its benefits to consumers and the environment.

 

It seems the Trump administration has some concerns over a recent emissions deal with California and several automakers. Bloomberg News reports that the Justice Department has launched an anti-trust investigation into Honda, BMW, Volkswagen, and Ford regarding a fuel economy agreement the manufacturers struck with California. The crux of the deal set a fleet-average of 50 mpg for light-duty vehicles by 2026 – a figure slightly lower than what was established by the Obama administration in 2012. On the other side of the fence, the 50-mpg standard is far more aggressive than President Trump’s 37-mpg freeze.

Details of the anti-trust probe aren’t clear. According to the Wall Street Journal, the foundation for the claim seeks to determine whether the four automakers violated federal competition law by agreeing to the standards, which are certainly far more aggressive than those coming from the federal government.

On the surface, it seems automakers agreeing to tougher mileage targets might be a competitive disadvantage. There are apparently concerns that, in establishing a separate mpg standard with a state, federal regulations could effectively be overruled by a select group of automakers, thus forcing change in the industry. The twist here is that, instead of trying to make things easier as one would expect, these four automakers are taking a harder path.

This is certainly a controversial topic. The four automakers established a deal with California after failed attempts by a majority of automakers to convince Washington to not aggressively rollback mpg targets. Some believe that striking a separate agreement was basically a thumbing to Trump, and by now, the entire world is well aware how much this president does not like being contradicted.