Fuel efficiency is patriotic, or so Washington believes

July 4th 059-5x7

Image by Paul-W via Flickr

Like fireworks exploding in the night sky, the news spread on Independence Day that the federal government may soon require auto manufacturers to meet 56.2 miles per gallon fleet-wide by 2025. While it may have taken (admittedly) too long for most car makers to hop onto the fuel-efficiency-is-cool bandwagon (it took 18 years to legislate higher mpg requirements), the Obama administration and EPA seem to have a voracious appetite for saving gas and eliminating GHG’s (greenhouse gas emissions).

The administration will likely propose its official recommendations in the fall, which means that the near-60 number could stay or go. Until then, I can’t help but wonder if Washington would have consumers dine at the Patriotic “CAFE” that serves nothing but plug-in hybrids and electric cars with sides of cramped legs and boredom.In his recent article, Philip Klein over at the Washington Examiner, provided an inside-the-beltway perspective on the matter:

It’s pretty clear where this is going. The Obama administration wants to raise fuel economy standards to satisfy the environmental lobby heading into an election year so he’s imposing new regulations, but to get the automakers to swallow the changes, he’ll have to offer them various subsidies. In the end, consumers will be punished with less choice and lighter/more dangerous cars, while taxpayers will help to pay the bills.

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This article was written by

Melanie Batenchuk founded Be Car Chic in 2009 as a way to help consumers make smart decisions when buying and selling their cars. Her prior work at the dealership, trade association and manufacturer levels has provided her a deep understanding of the complex facets within the auto industry, making her a leading woman in her field.

There are 10 comments for this article
  1. MPGomatic at 10:52 AM

    Consider that this might not be about the environmental lobby in an election year. It’s about national security and economic renewal.The 56.2 MPG proposal is CAFE, not window sticker.It’s more about clean diesel and efficient ICE in the short term than EVs … and EVs needn’t be cramped, nor boring.Lighter doesn’t necessarily = more dangerous.

  2. beltranaboutcars at 11:08 AM

    That MPG target by fleet is possible, but the companies that are opposing to it are those that have been behind the curve (globally) in R&D of more fuel efficient cars for many years. You have 3 examples above that are way above the average right now: Prius, Volt, Leaf., and there are a number out there close enough to push the average up in the following 15 years.On the economics side, the consumer will pay the bill somehow for keeping their freedom of transportation… why should it be worst to pay a bill in local infrastructure and development instead of sending money to (big oil) companies overseas?This discussion is a remastered version of the “Clean Air Act of 1970”, and we all know who stood against it and lost their market.PS that statement that lighter cars are more dangerous is a HUGE fallacy, just ask the air industry.

  3. Steven at 11:48 AM

    Truthfully, all this concern over enthusiasts losing their fun cars and having to drive a Prius every day is silly. Car companies are focusing on building efficient performance cars to satisfy both US and EU regulations. The fact of the matter is that our current rate we are in an unsustainable industry. I’d rather see the government help lead the push to more fuel efficient cars AND for car companies to keep us petrol heads in mind. I’d be happy to drive the Tesla Model S if it goes 0 – 60 in less then 6 seconds AND gets 300 miles per charge. It’s the best of both worlds if they pull if off.I talked about the emerging tech yesterday on my blog over at Some Guy About Cars.http://www.someguyaboutcars.com/2011/07/thrash-road-without-trashing.html

  4. Melanie Batenchuk at 12:16 PM

    Dan – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Having previously been part of the auto dealer lobby myself, I recognize that the 56.2 is fleet wide and not what individual vehicles will have listed on their sticker. But with that said, automakers may still be pushed into adding more small vehicles to their lineup in order to meet the CAFE standards. You’re right that EVs have come a long way – it’s not like they’re all Chevy Aveo sized – and that smaller cars still get a bad rap in the safety department (although they shouldn’t).

  5. Melanie Batenchuk at 12:20 PM

    Steven – I love your passionate response here. Thanks for sharing your candid opinions (and that great blog post!). I agree with you that we auto enthusiasts can have both, but I’m a fan of us leading the manufacturers to that conclusion through our consumer purchases of their products.

  6. Steven at 12:33 PM

    And since we all have different political beliefs, that makes sense.Some people want government to help regulate it. Some people want consumers to regulate it. It all comes down to your political persuasion and beliefs.I just can’t get behind Klein’s argument that claims we’ll all be granola munching hippies driving Prius and hating life if the government steps in.The EU is trying to enforce similar requirements and it has lead to Porsche creating the 918 Spyder. Hard to get mad at that in my opinion.

  7. MPGomatic at 1:02 PM

    Melanie -Some things to keep in perspective:The manufacturers ALREADY build the vehicles. They might not sell them here (yet).Last month’s sales numbers: Chevy Cruze #3, Ford Focus #6, Hyundai Elantra #10 … all cars with variants capable of 40 MPG highway in present form, without any hybridization.A combined, unadjusted CAFE rating of 50 relates to roughly 37 MPG combined EPA (Hyundai)MPG ratings should be calculated per PASSENGER, not per vehicle. (With a large family, a seven passenger clean diesel crossover may be more fuel-efficient than two smaller hybrid or efficient ICE sedans.)Pickup trucks should be treated differently from passenger vehicles.