The Review-Journal’s May 29 editorial (“Rollback of Obama era fuel economy standards will save lives”) misses the mark in several ways.
First, contrary to the paper’s claim, Consumer Reports’ and ICCT’s independent analyses show that fuel economy rules will save consumers thousands of dollars per vehicle, even as gas prices remain low.
Second, the Review-Journal’s suggestion that federal fuel economy rules are forcing people into smaller cars is false and based on outdated efficiency standards that have not been in place for many years. Modern fuel economy standards, developed in partnership with automakers, encourage gradual improvements to all classes of vehicles. Compliance targets take into account the size of the vehicle — smaller vehicles have lower targets than larger vehicles. So if an automaker sells only large trucks, it could still be in compliance with the standards by continuing to improve efficiency in large trucks. Consumers can choose whichever vehicle best meets their needs, whether it’s an SUV for active families, a pickup truck for small business owners or a compact car for easy city commutes. Modern fuel economy rules preserve consumer choice.
Finally, sales data do not back up the claim that fuel efficiency standards are forcing people into smaller vehicles. For the last several years, fuel economy standards have become more stringent and light trucks sales have continued to grow — both trends are expected to continue in the future. And automakers have been increasing the size of smaller vehicles (Honda Civics today are the size of earlier Honda Accords, for example).
Consumers Union surveys find that more than 80 percent of consumers want all types of vehicles — including larger models — to be more efficient. Fortunately, modern standards provide automakers the incentive to give the people what they want.