The exemption would apply to companies that sell fewer than 400,000 vehicles per year in the U.S.
Currently the plan would put an industry-wide standard into place, but the exemption, nicknamed the 'German provision' by lobbyists, would allow carmakers that sell fewer than 400,000 vehicles in the U.S. each year to be held to a less stringent standard, report The Wall Street Journal.
Obvious beneficiaries of the exemption would be the German carmakers Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, two of the loudest opponents of the rule in the first place.
In many ways the provision makes sense, since smaller carmakers are ostensibly less able to absorb the costs necessary to improve emissions to requisite levels due to the lack of small, low-end vehicles to boost their efficiency figures. The per-unit costs of such upgrades would also be huge for a small-volume carmaker, and legislating companies out of business isn't the goal.
On the flip side, allowing these companies to continue with less strict fuel efficiency standards works against the intent of the single national framework sought by the Obama administration and also undermines the ecological benefits of more efficient vehicles.
Other carmakers that could see some benefit from the proposed exemption include Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Subaru.