Last week's media days at the Frankfurt motor show got a lot of attention, even with a growing number of automaker no-shows. It's still a very interesting and popular event.
But one of the things that stands out is the changing political dynamics between governments and the auto industries in Europe and the United States.
Regardless of individual opinions — and there are plenty of them — it should be obvious to any observer that Europe has been on a very different trajectory than the U.S. and perhaps the rest of the world.
The repercussions of Dieselgate on all of Europe and automakers selling cars there have been profound. The huge changes governments are forcing upon the industry will be permanent. The fight against global warming has triggered changes far greater than anything on the horizon in the U.S.
The U.S. has responded quite differently. And we are going to see a continued split between these two arenas — with China and its own battle against auto emissions as a wild card.
What began as an interesting divergence has turned into a full-fledged difference.
Of course, we've had varied opinions on emissions controls even within the United States. For decades, under the so-called two-state policy, California and like-minded states have had the authority to mandate stricter standards than the rest of the country. The Trump administration, meanwhile, is trying to strip California of that power.
Chances are, as time goes on, we will see the battle get bloodier.
There are still plenty of opinions as to the cause and severity of global warming. My guess is that the debate on how to address it will continue. But the Europeans have already decided and are proceeding unabated.
Only time will tell whether the U.S. public will have a different point of view than Europeans do. Meanwhile, expect not just philosophical differences but different products for customers as well.