As the shutdown of the United States government enters its 28th day without any signs of ending, automakers are becoming increasingly concerned the stalemate could delay the launch of upcoming vehicles.
Speaking at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit earlier this week, Ford’s president of global markets said “Every new vehicle has to get certified through the government” and “If that gets backed up, so do the launches.”
As Jim Farley explained, automakers are “all waiting in lines” as they need to get new vehicles approved by EPA to ensure they comply with the Clean Air Act. This issue has taken on renewed importance following Volkswagen’s dieselgate scandal and FCA’s recent settlement over the use of defeat devices.
Farley said the problem isn’t critical yet as their recent unveilings – the 2020 Ford Explorer and 2020 Lincoln Aviator – aren’t scheduled to hit the market until later this spring and summer. The government shutdown will hopefully be a distant memory by then but, if not, it could delay the launch of these critical models.
Of course, Ford isn’t the only automaker facing issues with the shutdown as GM spokesperson Pat Morrissey told Automotive News it is “among the automakers that are awaiting decisions in the certification process.” The 2019 Ram 3500 with the 6.7-liter turbodiesel six-cylinder engine, that produces up to 400 hp (298 kW / 405 PS) and 1,000 lb-ft (1,354 Nm) of torque, is also awaiting approval. However, the Ram 2500 and 3500 with the 6.4-liter V8 petrol engine have already been certified.
While shut doesn’t appear to have an immediate impact on upcoming launches, that could change in the future as models can’t be approved by the EPA when their employees are furloughed.