Automakers Want a Review of Fuel-Economy Rules

Automakers aren’t interested in building cars with exceptional fuel economy.

That’s despite a 2011 announcement by the Obama administration that requires automakers to raise fuel-efficiency standards to a fleet average of 54.5 miles per gallon. According to the former administration, that would save motorists $1.7 trillion in fuel costs over the life of the vehicles, while costing the auto industry about $200 billion over 13 years.

Automakers claim that the requirements are contrary to the desires of the public and want the fuel-economy regulation changed.

They’re appealing to the current president to make it happen.

Leaders of 18 major automakers sent a letter to the president saying the current rules could “threaten future production levels, putting hundreds of thousands and perhaps as many as a million jobs at risk.”

Environmentalists, on the other hand, say changing the rules would “cost consumers more, increase our dependence on oil and put Americans at greater risk from a changing climate.”

Before President Obama left office, the head of the EPA made a determination that the fuel-efficiency rules should be locked in until 2025. The 18 automotive leaders have petitioned to have the president review that rule.

Automakers are in the business of delivering products that the car-buying public wants. Currently, with low gas prices, consumers are demanding trucks and SUVs. Fuel economy is taking a secondary, or even tertiary, priority on shoppers’ lists.

We all know how fast things can change, though. Within six months gas prices could climb and consumers would be demanding the kinds of cars the government is requiring.

It’s a fact that oil is a limited resource and could eventually run out. Building vehicles that use less fuel for each mile traveled is better for everyone in the long run. The problem is that the majority of the car-buying public doesn’t look at the long-term consequences of their decisions.

Is the government’s role to look out for our future environmental and economic well-being, or do we trust capitalism to lead to the right choices and a prosperous future?

That’s the question being debated, and it’s pretty clear so far that the current administration’s views differ from the former one’s. We shall see which view prevails.

How important is fuel economy to you when buying a new vehicle?


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