As the industry (or at least parts of it) and the federal government face off over forthcoming 2017-2025 CAFE/emissions standards, a Center for Automotive Research study is getting more play than ever from an industry that seeks to portray the high cost of fuel economy improvements as being not worth the additional costs to consumers. CAR has yet to publish its full study, but it’s clearly intended to counter an offensive from groups like the Consumer Federation of America, which uses its own study to show that CAFE regulation will actually save consumers money. This battle, over the cost to industry and consumers of passing a 62 MPG standard for 2025, has been playing out for months now, and will continue to go back and forth over the rest of this summer. And sure enough, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the National Resources Defense Council have both hit back against the CAR study, calling it “industry-advocate propaganda” in the Detroit News and arguing that it underestimates future reductions in technology costs.
Meanwhile, another report from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute shows that CAFE increases could yield big dividends to Detroit (although we have our doubts about that one). The point is that the 2017-2025 emissions standard seems to be turning into something of a Rorschach Test, as there’s research out there showing nearly every possible outcome, good and bad, coming from a standards hike (here is one way the government estimates cost increases). We encourage anyone who is interested to avail themselves of the data and make a case one way or the other in our comments section. Ultimately though, since California’s Air Resoures Board is leading the federal government on this issue anyway, expect CAR’s research to be ignored (or used to create some kind of “CAFE compensation”) as a 62 MPG 2025 standard is likely too far along to stop at this point.