Economics, Energy and the Environment

Fuel economy standards to tighten

The Obama administration has plunged ahead with it’s plan to drastically increase the average fuel economy of the U.S. automobile fleet. As reported by the Washington Post:

The Obama administration announced strict new fuel-efficiency vehicle standards Tuesday, requiring the U.S. auto fleet to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

The new rules, announced by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, expand on existing standards requiring American-made cars and light trucks to average 34.5 mpg by 2016. They will significantly cut U.S. oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by the time they are fully implemented, EPA says.

What’s the problem? High-mileage vehicles are expensive, that’s the problem. One should bear in mind that the GM Volt with it’s $40,000 price tag only gets an average fuel economy of 37.5 mpg in the city and 38.15 mpg on the highway, according to Popular Mechanics, which tested the vehicle out in real-world conditions. Few people have shown a willingness to shell out that kind of money for the Volt, and production of the vehicle has recently been paused for a second time. Watch out for your wallet.

2 thoughts on “Fuel economy standards to tighten

  1. Higher CAFE standards will raise car prices, as Ken Green points out. They’ll also raise traffic injury and fatality rates as car makers lighten cars to meet the standards. And they’ll make it harder for “big” families (i.e., with more than 3 kids) to transport themselves, meaning that sometimes those “big” families will have to take two vehicles instead of one, doubling both fuel use and risk of accidents–accidents at higher risk of injury of death, at that. The higher fuel standards MIGHT help the environment (or might not–historical statistics show that as it becomes cheaper to drive, people drive more miles, so demand for fuel doesn’t fall), but they will certainly hurt people, both by reducing their prosperity and exposing them to greater risk of accidents, on the one hand, and by increasing pressure on couples to have no more than 3 children. In short, intentionally or unintentionally, the higher CAFE standards are anti-human.

    But feel good: Big Brother is taking care of us!

  2. Well said, Cal! I thought about adding some of that in there, but I like to keep blog posts more pithy and punchy, and leave comprehensitivity to longer articles.

    Best,

    Ken

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