By on May 13, 2011

The war of words over a possible 62 MPG 2025 CAFE standard is accelerating this week, as letters in support of the standard [sub] are vying with industry responses against the proposal for media attention. And though environmentalists are quick to point out the often-misunderstood difference between EPA and CAFE mileage ratings (a fact that even the industry-friendly Automotive News [sub] concedes, if only in a blog post], the industry’s response is miles away from any kind of compromise, saying

The alliance believes it is inappropriate to be promoting any specific fuel economy/greenhouse gas at this point

How’s that for some old-school, don’t-tread-on-me corporate attitude? No room for compromise, no sense of nuance… and yet, that doesn’t actually represent the industry’s position at all.

Toyota, a member of the AAM, has already publicly stated that it has no problem with any future CAFE standards. VP Jim Colon explains:

The administration is engaged. That’s the direction Toyota is already going. Whatever goal they establish, Toyota will be prepared to meet. If it’s 62 miles a gallon, we’ll be able to achieve that.

And, if anything, Toyota’s compliant attitude is the product of pressure from Hyundai, which recently took the industry-leading step of publishing its sales-weighted fleet average fuel economy on a monthly basis. Hyundai USA CEO John Krafcik has been outspoken about his brand’s plan to “overcomply” with CAFE, pointing out that Hyundai’s Elantra will reach 50 MPG CAFE combined by its 2015 redesign, a good 10 years before the 62 MPG standard might take effect.

But despite the industry’s tough position and internal dissent, the AAM does bring up one strong argument in this war of words: that, whaerever it ends up, the standard

should not be arbitrary numbers, chosen before the necessary analyses are completed.

This accusation does stick to California’s Air Resource Board, which has insisted on a 62 MPG 2025 standard since long before feasibility studies were complete. At the same time, the accusation is fairly irrelevant at this point. The AAM has little credibility given the dissent in its ranks, as the industry is split on whether 62 MPG is reasonable and achievable, or a coming apocalypse. And as long as the anti-62 MPG faction fails to convince the rest of their industry to hold the line at (say) a 50 MPG standard, though, it’s probably doomed to fail.

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22 Comments on “62 MPG: The War Of The Letters...”


  • avatar

    While the industry can frequently be pig headed, you’re in the wrong for taking them to task for this stance.

    Their job is to make money. The government’s job is to allow them to do so in order to generate taxable income.

    If the government wanted to encourage more fuel efficient car purchases, the government should raise the tax on gasoline, thereby encouraging consumers to purchase more fuel efficient vehicles, rather than forcing the manufacturers to make these vehicles and depriving the consumer of the choice.

    If a consumer wishes to purchase an inefficient vehicle, they should be allowed to do so and pay the additional tax cost of the purchase and refueling.

    Thinking that we can legislate and mandate is what has lead to our current Nanny state.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      Amen to that. This is a completely wrong headed way to legislate. It is a hidden tax and a hidden outlawing of products deemed bad for us. The gov’t should stop gas subsidies, raise gas taxes and invest the tax money in mass transit. That would make a real difference while still allowing citizens to make their own choices.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        I agree there’s a hidden agenda behind CAFE to limit consumer choice, led by activists in charge of California’s CARB. The question never asked of the regulators is “Is this any of the government’s business?” The activists are using environmental controls and CAFE as the rock and hard place to squeeze citizens into smaller cars with less utility, and ultimately out of personal transportation into mass transit. That sounds good to childless elitists, but not to Americans with families.

        There are few areas of the country where mass transit makes much sense. Unlike Europe, with shorter distances and dense population, most of America’s population is spread out, with much larger distances to travel.

        I’d hate to see higher taxes devoted to mass transit. It’s not just the initial cost, most systems require a continuing subsidy, and in truth, no mass transit system will ever pay for itself. With government deficits, subsidies will be cut, and the operators’ standard response is to raise fares and eliminate routes, leaving those without cars to fend for themselves. Most of the money will be wasted on high speed rail and other boondoggles.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    Funny how the Federal Government thinks it can direct the auto industry towards future societal transporation goals when everyone clearly has seen how they have handled other transporation system and goals.

    When the Federal Government demonstrates it can run the trains on time and not lose a billion dollars a year doing it, and when Amtrak isn’t asking us to pay $53,000,000,000 for them to do “high speed” rail – then perhaps we can listen to them regarding cars.

    A system so flawed that it cannot after forty years get folks from New York to San Francisco in some semblance of normalcy has no place to dictate to any industry how it should operate.

    • 0 avatar
      getacargetacheck

      “Funny how the Federal Government thinks it can direct the auto industry towards future societal transporation goals when everyone clearly has seen how they have handled other transporation system and goals.”

      Who do you think runs the Eisenhower Interstate System? Who do you think manages our air transportation system? Who do you think makes the trains run to the second in Japan and Europe? This Reaganesque “government can’t do anything” canard is really getting tiresome.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Part of the problem with American government and regulation is the way it’s done. In most other nations it’s much more overt, much less back-handed, far less prone to circumvention and less balkanized.

        This is partly due to years of American anticommunist hysteria and the people who benefit from it, partly because American politicians have no spine when it comes to progressivism.

        Take the corporate- and sales tax system (please, ba-dum-bum). Everywhere else they’re pretty straightforward and flat: in America, they’re riddled with exemptions, rate changes, regional fiefs and so forth. And you get a bigger bureaucracy to administer this “fair, small-government” tax base.

        Another example is CAFE: other nations tax gas; America (“taxation without representation is tyranny!”) has CAFE, road tolls, per-state plate and registration nonsense, red-light camera games, and so forth.

        If you keep the state’s business up front and in the open, even when it’s unpleasant, it can actually work. If you pull, yes, Reagan-esque games that force the state to operate under the table you get idiocy like this.

    • 0 avatar

      I took Amtrak from SF (actually the stop is in Oakland) to Boston 37 years ago. Very nice trip. The following year I took it Oakland-Seattle. Also very nice. Although I do prefer the French Train a Grand Vitesse (Lyon-Paris, 1989).

      But I’m not sure what financing a train system has to do with regulating automobiles. And I do fear that the car companies will find loopholes as they did with the original CAFE standards, which will distort the market to everyone’s detriment. On the other hand, the pollution standards have worked very well. Cars are far, far cleaner than they have ever been.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      Get real.
      It is not 1953.

      Amtrak is losing a billion a year after 40 years being ran by the Federal government. That is now. Not yesterday. The geniuses in the Feds now believe they can create the 62 MPG car via CAFE after decades of failure with CAFE.

      Who wouldn’t want a car that gets 62 MPG? Do you think car manufacturers don’t want to provide that kind of mileage across their lines if they could? We have had high mileage cars on the road for over twenty years, but they do not sell. So what do you want to do about it? Force people to buy vehicles they don’t want?

      CAFE is a numbers game played by politicians. It causes our market to warp away from reality. When high mileage becomes the most important priority for buyers in enough numbers to find auto manufacturers seeing their competitors selling more cars than they due to fuel efficiencies, then they will naturally follow that trend.

      There is absolutely no need for CAFE. It is like mandating that cars should be built to never fall apart. No one wants to spend more on gas than they need to and takes into consideration gas costs when considering a vehicle purchase. But we have this thing called freedom which allows us to consider other personal priorities when buying a vehicle too. CAFE is a stupid political game with a history of stupidity.

      The only reason we have high mileage cars is because the market wants them. Not because of any federal mandates. Believing that we have the cars we have due to some federal agency gives credit to where no credit is to be given.

      Also – your examples are obsolete, as well as your criticism. Reagan was president freaking 30 years ago. Get over it already!

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        “There is absolutely no need for CAFE. It is like mandating that cars should be built to never fall apart. No one wants to spend more on gas than they need to and takes into consideration gas costs when considering a vehicle purchase. But we have this thing called freedom which allows us to consider other personal priorities when buying a vehicle too. CAFE is a stupid political game with a history of stupidity.”

        While individual consumer wants are important, there are other, broader, systematic conditions that need to be taken into consideration when it comes to assessing the importance of emissions. Among these are the impacts of emissions of various kinds on quality of life issues (e.g., the effects that noxious fumes, airborne particulates, and so have on individual health), and environmental issues (e.g., the currently debated issue of humanly induced climate change, impacts on other species, and so on). There are also broad scale political issues related to extreme dependence on foreign fossil fuel resources that go well beyond the wants of individual consumers. To say that “there is absolutely no need for CAFE” and to then try and reduce questions regarding emissions to the preferences and choices of individuals is to fail to understand the important role that these other, more system-wide emissions-related issues play in social, political life in general. As I’ve said many times before, we are social beings as much as we are individuals, and to try to ignore either side of this complex dichotomy is dangerous to say the least.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Sounds like Toyota and Hyundai have a can-do winner’s attitude.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      No, it sounds as though they don’t sell as many full-size pickups SUVs, so it won’t hit them as hard.

      • 0 avatar
        tekdemon

        Well, Hyundai has no pickups and no longer has any body on frame SUVs in their lineup so they essentially have no trucks. But Toyota actually has a huge number of SUVs in their lineup as well as two pickup trucks so they’d have to work a lot harder to meet that kind of goal.
        I wonder if maybe we should set some sort of fuel economy standard that takes into account the gross weight rating of the vehicle-the old truck vs non-truck thing lead to everyone claiming cars like the HHR as trucks but it’d be a lot harder to get around the weight ratings.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      If you actually know anything about Japan (and I mean actual lived-there facts, not anime-fanboy weaboo forum-knowledge), it sounds like Toyota and Hyundai are based in countries where everyone is trained from birth to tow the line and individuality is scornfully regarded as a terrible and unforgivable personality flaw. Much of Asia is as disturbingly close to human hive-mentality as you’ll see anywhere on Earth.

      62 MPG? Yes! Life-long personal obligation created by an incidental question from a stranger? Yes! Generations of shame over some minor, passing slight? Yes! Throw myself in front of a train? Yes!

      But to swerve back to more business-oriented topics by expanding on geeber’s excellent observation a bit more, these companies are based in resource-strapped nations. The more paper-thin sheet-metal, 1-cylinder, 10″ tire micro-cars they can legitimately sell to us, which they already sell to the hive by the tens of millions, the better it is for them. Cranking out a full-size Land Cruiser is far more painful for Toyota than a Tahoe is for GM in terms of resource cost — even if the factory is in the same country.

  • avatar
    Mike999

    The role of a corporation is apparently, ONly to make money.
    The Role of Government is ABSOLUTELY to Protect the Rights of the People, against corporate negative externalities that corporations Blindly Ignore to make money.

    That’s Exactly the Role of Government to Make Regulation, with bureaucrats that are NOT FOLLED by the 85 right wing think tanks funded by Koch Industries to limit green house gas regulations. But, to write regulation that solves the global warming problem.

    Industry would like to live in a world with No Regulation, so that in the short term, they pollute their way to massive profits while killing their very customers. That’s Extreme Capitalism and is Extremely stupid.

    So, how did the Koch brothers get so stupid. Do they have a disease? Are they OCD about Money?
    Is the Republican Party doing the bidding of the “Insane King”, like the George we rebelled against?
    Why is there No Republican taking on the Supreme Court’s stance on “Citizen’s United” [ against democracy ]?

    We are now in a world where a Billionaire can spend any amount of money to THROW US Elections for his corporate interests.

    1% of Koch Brothers assets are: $41 Million Dollars.
    They’ve spent more like 2% of their assets 80-100 Million attempting to buy Right Wing Crackpot Candidates. That’s like a guy making $50,000 spending $100 to buy the governor of Pennsylvania.

    This is what your Bush “Tax Cut’s” have done. Allowed these guys to save massive amounts of money on taxes, which they are using NOW to BUY the Republican Party to Do their Bidding.
    Welcome to the New US Dark Ages.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Sounds like you should be aiming your fire at George Soros. He bought and paid for the Dem party and myriad political front organizations. Soros’ pol spending makes the Koch brothers look like paupers.

  • avatar
    jaje

    CAFE is a faulty supply side economics concept to force OEMs to sell cars / trucks to people who don’t want them (demand). When gas is cheap – no one wants fuel efficient cars b/c it doesn’t save them a lot of money. CAFE then has so many loopholes in it that you can sell an flex fuel SUV that gets 14mpg when running gasoline and 10mpg when running E85 – but CAFE rates that E85 car in the mid 20′s. I doubt less than 5% of flex fuel owners put in E85 in their vehicles (b/c I don’t want my car/truck to get 33% less miles per tank and pay almost the same for E85 – which in and of itself is highly subsidized to seem cheaper at the pump).

    When gasoline prices rise an amazing thing happens – logic. People now demand fuel efficient vehicles – no need for CAFE, no need for subsidies, no need for the multitude of imperfect measures. So when gas is cheap – people will want more than they need (big heavy gas guzzlers). So let’s not let gas become cheap anymore (as much as that sounds bad) by levying an artificial gas tax to keep prices high. That will keep the momentum of buying fuel efficient cars – and it also helps our national security by decreasing our consumption of fossil fuels so we are no longer as reliant on unstable countries and it adds stability to our lives as no more fluctuating gas prices at the pump. We use less over oil time and the supply becomes more stable as we are at the limit of what all oil reserves can provide (only solution is drill everywhere we can to find some more – only passes off the hard lesson to later).

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I can’t believe people advocate raising taxes to force behavior. Taxes should cover costs, that’s it.

    That goes for cars, cigarettes, drugs, hookers, etc.

    CAFE is a total joke. It has been acceptable for all these years because people have still been able to get the cars they want. Once it actually has an impact, and the only thing you can buy is the 2015 Elantra, then I think we’ll see a totally different view on this stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      I see you have all the answers – which is none. Unfortunately we need the Gov’t to do some things – things for the good of our country and the planet – things we would not do b/c we are selfish and do not think as a community for our greater good.

      You likely already pay $4 a gallon a gas. My premise is to keep gas at least this high even if it does go down in price. Why – b/c it makes most selfish people (except the wealthy) stop driving the gas guzzlers that waste so much fuel. If you really like to drive a gas guzzler then you must make other sacrifices. The Gov’t is not banning gas guzzlers – just making you pay more for the fuel you use and the road wear it causes over a much smaller / lighter car. Now add up the wasted gas and excess emissions from a 100 million people who drive another gas guzzlers (mainly as single occupant vehicles) – and we have a problem that the Gov’t needs to address b/c we ourselves don’t care about it b/c we primarily care only about ourselves. Now add up the many more millions of gallons of oil (one of the biggest factors in the US trade deficit is oil) a day from unstable countries that have supporters who get $ from us. The solution – drill everywhere and often only puts off this hard decision slightly longer. Why not do it now while we still have the choice?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Unless you are also an advocate of implementing the “The Ballsiest Public Transportation Bill Ever” or “The Mother of all C4C Programs”, I think your permanent $4/gal gas idea will hurt poor folks a lot more than the guy that drives an Expedition alone to work everyday.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      Taxes are a strong way of curbing behavior unlike other efforts. Show me a more true, direct effect to curb purchase of gas guzzlers? There are none – b/c it does not force you to buy anything else – just makes you pay more for that decision.

      As for cigarettes, drugs, hookers analogy – doesn’t work here b/c it has more to do with health, burdens on healthcare, insurance, criminal, etc. than what I was suggesting.


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