Our guest blogger is Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are on the verge of finalizing a landmark national program to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and increase new car average fuel economy to an unprecedented 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. Just as when the process started a year ago, the auto industry stands fully behind this new program and is proud to have played a major role in its development.
While this new national program takes gigantic steps towards our shared goals of increasing fuel economy, enhancing energy security, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the auto industry feels that to achieve longer-lasting success, the EPA and NHTSA should quickly start the process of planning for 2017 and beyond.
Clearly, crafting a program for the years past 2016 will be just as important, if not more so, than what we’ve accomplished in the last year. Our goal is to avoid going down the same path that lead to the unnecessarily complex and uncoordinated regulations that we have now fixed by crafting a strong national emissions and fuel economy plan. The EPA, NHTSA, states, and other stakeholders can promote the continued and unparalleled innovation so greatly needed from the auto industry, by creating an even more unified and harmonious set of goals beyond 2016.
In the last several years, the auto industry has begun reinventing itself, making drastic changes in the way vehicles are conceived, designed and, ultimately, built. We currently have hundreds of models of vastly more fuel efficient cars on the road than were available even 5 years ago. In 2010 there are close to 50 models of hybrids and clean diesel vehicles available and nearly 200 models that achieve 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway. 2009 marked the 5th straight year fuel economy standards for autos increased. This regulation will ensure that trend will continue through 2016 and beyond.
But rest assured, the auto industry is not only making dramatic improvements to old combustion technology: within a year, plug-in vehicles that use even less fuel will start reaching consumers. And further down the road, technologies such as fuel cells and advanced next generation biofuels promise to make an even larger variety of low and zero emissions technology available.
Yet, although we plan on bringing all of these amazing solutions to market, if we ever hope to successfully address our climate concerns and enhance our energy security, these solutions need to be embraced by consumers and most importantly they need to be affordable. Ultimately, the sooner automakers can start planning for 2017 and beyond, the more cost effectively all of these new technologies can be brought to market.