WASHINGTON -- The California Air Resources Board and major automakers on Monday confirmed they had finalized binding agreements to cut vehicle emissions in the state, defying the Trump administration's push for weaker curbs on tailpipe pollution.
The agreements with carmakers including Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen Group, Honda Motor Co. and BMW , were first announced in July 2019 as voluntary measures prompting anger from President Donald Trump.
A month later, the Justice Department opened an antitrust probe into the agreements. The government ended the investigation without action.
The Trump administration in March finalized a rollback of U.S. vehicle emissions standards to require 1.5 percent annual increases in efficiency through 2026. That is far weaker than the 5 percent annual increases in the discarded rules adopted under President Barack Obama.
The 50-page California agreements, which extend through 2026, are less onerous than the standards finalized by the Obama administration but tougher than the Trump administration standards. The automakers have also agreed to electric vehicle commitments.
Volvo Cars, owned by China's Geely Holdings, said in March it planned to join the automakers agreeing to the California requirements. It has also finalized its agreement.
The settlement agreements say California and automakers agreed to resolve "potential legal disputes concerning the authority of CARB" and other states that have adopted California's standards.
CARB said the deal will cut vehicle greenhouse gas emissions through 2026 and "encourage innovation to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, provide industry the certainty needed to make investments and create jobs, and save consumers money."
The White House did not comment.
The 13 states that follow California's standards, which represent about 40 percent of the U.S. auto market, have said they support the agreements.
In May, a group of 23 U.S. states led by California and some major cities, challenged the Trump vehicle emissions rule.
Other major automakers like General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Toyota Motor Corp. did not join the California agreement.
Those companies also sided with the Trump administration in a separate lawsuit over whether the federal government can strip California of the right to set zero emission vehicle requirements.
“While a single national standard remains our preference, this agreement achieves substantial annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions and provides a clear pathway for our brands to continue bringing consumer-focused innovation to the market,” Volkswagen said in a statement.
Ford said the "final agreement will reduce emissions in our vehicles at a more stringent rate, support and incentivize the production of electrified products, and create regulatory certainty."
BMW said "by setting these long-term, predictable, and achievable standards, we have the regulatory certainty that is necessary for long-term planning that will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but ultimately benefit consumers as well."
Audrey LaForest of Automotive News contributed to this report.