Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Editorial: A stronger cup of CAFE
Higher fuel efficiency standards are good news all around - except for anti-government ideology.
From the RoundTable blog
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The Obama administration's strict new corporate average fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks drew few complaints last week outside of the political arena.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledged that if elected, he'd roll back or eliminate CAFE standards. Republican ideology holds that government just mucks things up when it intrudes on the private sector. But in this case, the assumption doesn't fit the reality.
Consumers want higher fuel efficiency. They've benefitted at the fuel pump, and with the tougher standards for model years 2017 to 2025, they'll benefit more.
And if consumers want better gas mileage, vehicle manufacturers want it, too. Plus, the new standards are flexible, allowing industry to adjust miles-per-gallon benchmarks based on yearend market conditions.
The Environmental Protection Agency expects emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, to drop by 2billion metric tons over the lifetimes of the vehicles sold - the biggest benefit of all for everyone, even climate-change deniers who will never know, much less acknowledge, the impact on this Earth that all share. Never mind.
Even setting the climate-change debate aside, there's plenty of reason to hail the higher standards.
"Without a doubt, the new rules have been a win-win for everybody," automotive industry analyst Jesse Toprak observed on TrueCar.com. "It's a win for consumers, a win for manufacturers and a win for the environment."
True, new cars could cost about $1,800 more than they would have. But that would be more than offset by fuel savings estimated at $8,000 over the life of the vehicle - more if gas prices go higher than predicted.
Consumers will benefit, too, from greater innovation. Already, the industry has figured out how to get more power from smaller engines. Industry talk now is of more efficient engines and lightweight aluminum bodies.
Analysts predict that by 2025, the auto industry will have added 570,000 jobs to design, engineer, produce and sell new vehicles as a result of the stricter standards.
Romney has said he is for greater fuel efficiency - what's not to like? - but against government's hand in the marketplace.
Yet this has been a necessity that has proven to be the mother of innovation.