As President Trump and Congress feud over the government shutdown, regulatory agencies that test and approve vehicles for sale in the U.S. remain closed. That could impact the launch dates for several much-anticipated vehicles slated for launch in the next several months. This buzzkill is in contrast to the acres of shiny new vehicles unveiled at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which is open to the public from January 19–27. What’s more, automakers are gearing up for next month’s Chicago show that bills itself as the largest consumer show in America.
Before a new (or significantly reengineered) car can go on sale, it must be certified by the federal government. Under the Clean Air Act, this is the responsibility of the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor does the verification. But the lab is among the agencies not being funded during the shutdown, which began on December 22 and has now stretched nearly a month. On the bright side, many new vehicles awaiting certification are not slated to go on sale until spring and the majority are fall launches, so while automakers will grown increasingly concerned if the shutdown continues for too long, in most cases there is still time before panic sets in.
The unease is a bit stronger for diesel-powered vehicles. The emissions-reporting scandal is still fresh in American minds, and many automakers have canceled or significantly reduced their plans to offer diesel-fueled vehicles in the U.S.—the exception being large pickups that remain huge profit-makers for Detroit. Indeed, some diesel-powered vehicles have faced long wait times for certification even prior to the shutdown as federal agencies have been more meticulous in the wake of the cheating scandal.
Below we’ve gathered a list of the vehicles that the shutdown could affect; read on for more information on their statuses.
When the shutdown hit, the EPA had completed the federal emission testing and certified the 2019 Ram 2500 heavy-duty pickup, but had not finished testing tailpipe emissions for the Cummins diesel version of the 3500. That process is on hold, FCA CEO Mike Manley confirmed at the auto show. Both trucks are scheduled to go on sale this spring. The automaker says other vehicles are undergoing their normal quality validation testing and no shipments are not being delayed at this time. That includes the 2019 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel that is still in the certification process.
A diesel-powered Grand Cherokee variant is still in line awaiting its turn for certification. The new Jeep Gladiator midsize pickup is not due until spring, so there is no impact yet to that highly anticipated model.
Volkswagen will show the new Jetta GLI (a standard 2019 Jetta is pictured) next month at the Chicago Auto Show. It is slated to launch in March. Executives think the launch will remain on schedule—if be a bit tight—if federal employees return to work by the end of January, but a delay for the car looms.
Ford has a lot of vehicles (GT500, Explorer, Escape, and Lincoln Aviator) slated to go on sale this year, and many of them are in the queue for certification. Nothing is due in the next few months so no delays at this time. But if the shutdown is prolonged, there will be concerns. The 2020 Ford Explorer is due in June, while the Aviator also goes on sale this summer. The GT500 is not due until fall. We have not yet seen the new Escape yet, so it likely has more time.
Cadillac’s big XT6 crossover is due this spring so there is still time before it feels any impact as long as the backlog does not become onerous. GM officials say they have no launch delays at this time but, like other automakers, are currently awaiting decisions in the certification process for a number of 2019 and 2020 models.
There is some concern that the mid-cycle refresh of the volume-leading Macan could be delayed, as it is slated to go on sale in March. Same applies to the Cayenne hybrid. The next-generation 911 isn’t coming to the U.S. until July or August, so there should be plenty of time for testing to be conducted.
Kia’s new Telluride three-row crossover goes on sale this spring but no reports of delays at this time.
The three-row 2020 Hyundai Palisade CUV will be available this summer. At this point, officials say no Hyundai model is on hold awaiting EPA certification due to the shutdown.
Nothing from Honda is being impacted. The new Passport goes on sale next month but is already certified.