Will Detroit Surrender on MPGs?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
will detroit surrender on mpgs

In this morning’s column, Detroit News scribe Daniel Howes’ pointed out that “Road for Autos Runs Through Oval Office.” In other words, GM, Chrysler and perhaps Ford’s fate now rests in the hands of the President of the United States. True dat. Piper. Tune calling. Gold. Rule making. Etc. But Danny wasn’t making the expected plea for Barack’s administration to keep Motown’s hometown heroes out of bankruptcy court until, well, whenever. Oh no, there’s another battle brewing… “President Barack Obama is poised to face an automotive conundrum potentially pitting him, the Detroit auto industry and the more immediate needs of the beleaguered national economy against pressure from environmentalists, fuel economy zealots and the powerful California delegation, including the two members of Congress who escorted him to his inauguration.” Translation: Danny’s signaling Detroit’s “need” to resist state-based hoikment of fleet-wide federal fuel economy standards. In this, he’s not alone…

First, Danny’t take:

“California’s governor, Arnold Schwarzennegger, is urging Obama to make good on a campaign promise and grant his state and 13 others Environmental Protection Agency waivers that would allow them to regulate their own greenhouse gases. (Cha-ching!) And stiffer federal fuel economy rules are ready to become law.”

Cha-ching? Is Howes suggesting that CA’s desire to impose tougher emissions standards than Uncle Sam is somehow financially motivated? How does that work? And what about this leap?

“Fellow Democrats already have used auto bridge loan hearings to make clear their quid pro quo expectations — in exchange for federal loans, the automakers should essentially hybridize their U.S. fleets. (Irrespective of cost, market demand and oil prices, apparently.)”

It would be easy enough to dismiss Howes’ paranoia as, uh, paranoia. But just because he thinks Congress has plans on altering Detroit’s model mix to satisfy their political agenda doesn’t mean Congress doesn’t have plans to alter Detroit’s model mix to satisfy their political agenda.

According to Automotive News [sub], it’s a point that’s not lost on the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). Although GM and Chrysler are staying stum on California’s desire to pre-empt federal mpg standards, NADA ain’t.

“It makes no sense for the federal government to aid the auto industry with one hand and then burden it with a duplicative rule that regulates fuel economy completely differently than the federal government,” claims David Regan, NADA’s vice president for legislative affairs.

Since when does any of this makes sense?

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  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Jan 25, 2009
    The panic of $4 fuel (as mentioned above) did more in that short period of time than CAFE ever has.... And why is that? It's because the law was full of loopholes that made it easy to circumvent. And American corporate culture was fast to exploit it. The lawmakers chose not to do anything about it and CAFE became noting more than a minimum floor, a floor that was way too low, even lower than those who drafted the law expected. Had CAFE worked more like emission regs, where standards were increased as technology, there would have been a steady uptick to the national fleet efficiency. Instead, technology was used to allow cars to become overweight blobs. Don't want to take a bridge two ignorance. See, you can twist the rules and work on the edge if you want to. Just ask Al!!
  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Jan 25, 2009

    Rev Junkie, It's not how much fuel you use, it's how many miles per gallon you use. Airplanes do extremely well in miles per gallon per seat. Sorry, but you missed the mark. If you stopped airline service, the only savings would be from less travel. That may work, but it's a more complex argument than simply how many gallons per hour a boeing burns. T2, It makes no sense to tax engine sizes if your goal is energy savings. If you want energy savings tax energy use. Your scheme incentivises people to only buy the one vehicle that meets all their needs, and drive it all the time (do the math). Instead, we would save more fuel if people who need a big engine on occasion, only drove it when they needed it (towing, hauling, etc.) and drove a more efficient car the rest of the time. OTOH, if you want get rid of larger vehicles because you hate them, then you have the right idea. Just realize it will not save fuel. Psar, There is a difference between characterizing a person based on the ideas they support (greens), and from where they are from (redneck). Both are usually not the best way to go, but there is a real difference. What's worse, and done here often, is to do the sidestep ad hominem: You, or your idea, is (conservative, liberal, etc.) and therefore wrong. PS Before I get a note from RF, I am sure I have crossed this line myself. That doesn't mean I am wrong in pointing it out. If a liar promotes honesty, that may be hypocrisy, but it is no refutation of honesty as a virtue. Jerome, There are plenty of us that are for a higher fuel tax that are not enviro extremists. Given that lousy start, I didn't bother to read the rest of your post. Golden, You are correct. The government has once again been outsmarted by the market place. There are essentially less than 1,000 people involved in making any new law, and their are millions of us figuring out how to live how we want to. It's tough for the politicians to easily trick us into voting them in, and then to forget they so easily outwitted us. Even though we do outwit them every other day of the year, they need to realize their limitations.

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