Car Makers Oppose Fuel Standards that Would Save Consumers $150 Billion

The auto industry is starting a media blitz this week designed to fight new fuel economy standards that research groups say will create over a half million jobs, save consumers $150 billion and are supported by three quarters of Americans.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is running radio ads in 6 states and the District of Columbia claiming that higher fuel standards will limit consumer choice and hurt the economy:

Some in Washington have suggested as much as a 100 percent increase over current standards. Imagine how that would affect our state. Families would be hit with higher car prices.  Small businesses dependent on vans, SUVs or pickups would face limited vehicle choice. And, even the government is predicting a drop in auto sales from what amounts to an electric vehicle mandate.

But those claims run counter to what many political leaders and consumer advocacy groups are reporting.

Current standards passed in 2009 raise the average fuel efficiency for automobiles to 34 mpg by 2016, up from 21 mpg today. The most aggressive plans would raise those standards to 56 mpg by 2025, a move that was lauded by a group of 15 retired Republican politicians in June:

Reductions in fuel consumption could not come at a more important time. With thousands of U.S. troops fighting overseas, unrest in the Middle East and consumers at home feeling the pain at the pump we must resolve to unshackle ourselves from the world oil market….  If oil continues to be a primary driver of our economy and security, we will hand our destiny to other nations, many of which do not share our interests.

The Union of Concerned Scientists issued an analysis finding that a 6-percent increase in fuel efficiency through 2025 could cut oil imports by 1/3. In addition, the sustainability consultancy Ceres found that a 6-percent pathway could create up to 700,000 jobs due to increased manufacturing activity and save consumers over $150 billion over the next two decades.

According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, the auto industry says those standards would “lead to layoffs, price increases of up to $10,000 per vehicle, diminished safety and the demise of some vehicle lines.” Insiders say the industry is looking for standards in the low to mid 40’s – a small increase over current standards.

However, the United Auto Workers Union now says it supports an aggressive increase in fuel efficiency standards in order to stimulate new activity at factories

In early May, the Consumer Federation of America released a survey showing that 75% of Americans supported increased fuel economy standards, with 65% supporting a 60 mpg target by 2025. Shortly after, Consumer Reports conducted a poll that found 58% of Americans were willing to pay more for a fuel-efficient car.

Stephen Lacey

Joe Romm:   Also, as Climate Progress has reported, because conventional oil production is peaking now, gasoline prices are inevitably headed higher over the next decade, to $5 a gallon and beyond (see “WikiLeaks peak oil bombshell: Saudi Arabian reserves overstated by 40%, global production plateau immiment“).  That’s why the world’s top energy economist urged immediate action: “We have to leave oil before oil leaves us.”


Below are earlier comments from the Facebook commenting system:

Kyle Vester

The industry, surprise, is lying. There are a plethora of high mileage engines and vehicles over in Europe that are fully amortized and ready to come over here. The reason they haven’t is because, we the American public haven’t been buying them. There’s diesels they could adapt to meet our standards, which they already do and only adds $2000 or less to the car. The Fiat 500 is being sold now and it took less than a year for them to make the changes to meet our regulations.

To expedite the importation of Euro vehicles, they should be pushing the government to allow any Euro car to come over here. There’s no reason, in my mind, that a car good enough for Europe can’t be good enough for here. From what I know, there are stupid regulations that prevent the importation, like tail light placement and color.

July 20 at 11:13am

Kyle Vester

Hmmm, I just realized that third sentence makes not a lick of sense.

Americans have shown we won’t buy smaller sized or engined vehicles unless gas prices get high. That’s what I meant there. It’s amazing that folks will always opt for that bigger engine when 90+% of them don’t use the added power.

July 20 at 12:42pm

Julia Kuglen

I’d estimate it’s costing me about 2.6 cents a mile to power my Nissan Leaf on my electric utility’s Green Choice option (primarily wind power). Compare that to about 15 cents per mile for a typical gas-powered automobile.

July 20 at 10:48am

Peter S. Mizla

The Auto industry in this country has for years resisted change. Built in obsolescence was their goal. Unsafe vehicles of poor quality and low fuel economy. Profit has been the primary driver.

That they resist higher fuel standards is no surprise.

July 20 at 11:17am

Ruben Bernardino

Having worked in the auto industry for over a decade, I can clearly see the long held smoke and mirrors campaign by such industry continues. They get us hopeful and excited about the future with their fuel sipping auto show prototypes but most of those energy efficient marvels rarely see the light of day, not because the market is not ready for them but because the auto industry continues to be hijacked by the Oil Lobby. If we consider that the oil industry is the second most powerful global enterprise, it is easy to see how they can buy governments and of course the auto industry as well as many others. I cannot wait for the next oil crisis, which in my opinion is round the corner.

July 23 at 2:51pm

Julia Kuglen

The automobile industry makes a lot more money per unit on the sale of its big pick-up trucks and SUVs than it does on its sale of small, fuel-efficient cars.

July 20 at 11:28am

Leif Erik Knutsen

If the consumers don’t get to save the $150 billion, two guesses who gets to make it. Hint it is not climate scientists.

July 20 at 10:57am

Bertrand Guillotin

60 mpg by 2025 ? Is it a joke ? In Europe it’s already there. It should be 120 mpg by 2015. Easy : just make a half ton car.

July 20 at 11:43am

Comments are closed.