MI Congressional Delegation: 56.2 MPG CAFE Proposal "Not Feasible"

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

An anonymous tipster has sent us a copy of a letter from the Michigan congressional delegation to President Obama [ PDF here, or hit the jump for an embedded copy], which calls his proposal for a 56.2 MPG CAFE standard by 2025 “overly aggressive and not reasonably feasible.” The letter is remarkable in the sense that the major signatories are Democrats, and yet it attacks the President’s proposal with more vigor than many inside the industry. The letter also confirms that that the Detroit-based automakers already rely on CAFE’s “credit” loopholes in order to meet the 2012-2016 standard, a stunning admission of how far behind Detroit still lags in fleet fuel economy. And rather than taking responsibility for their situation, the MI representatives blame CAFE for Detroit’s low fleet efficiency, arguing that “manufacturers that produce primarily smaller vehicles will have an unfair advantage.” Moreover, the MI reps don’t just admit that Detroit is behind its competition, but even goes as far as to argue that “the overall targets currently proposed may exceed what is technologically achievable for the the US automakers that produce and sell the majority of the larger pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles that US families and businesses -and tens of thousands of autoworkers- depend on.”

In short, the letter strikes me as a shockingly old-school display of excuses and apologia that stands in sharp contrast to the “green car revival” narrative that Detroit and D.C. pushed so hard during the bailout. And frankly, I’d be embarrassed if I ran one of the largest automakers in the world and I was reduced to pleading my inability, on technological grounds no less, to achieve a 56.2 MPG fleet average (which in “window sticker” terms, translates to about 41 MPG EPA) within 15 years… even though CAFE is riddled with loopholes that make it easier to continue building thirsty trucks. If Detroit were actually leading the charge for a gas tax (or offering any kind of market-driven alternative), it might have some credibility on this issue, but as things stand this strikes me as nothing more than whining. So much for America’s “can-do” spirit…

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  • Doctor olds Doctor olds on Jul 25, 2011

    @Ed- I took a few minutes to search the fueleconomy.gov site for vehicles that achieve over 40MPG combined and found that there are just (7) cars listed, all either electric or hybrids: Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt(electricity only),Smart electric, Honda Civic Hybrid, Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and Lexus CT 200h. Volt is the only one that can accelerate to 60 in under 9.0 seconds. I wonder how you think the whole domestic fleet including light trucks can achieve an average of 41MPG given these current max economy examples, several of which (Civic, Insight & Lexus) just match that 41MPG average? This reality is why I mention the laws of physics standing in the way. The heaviest is Volt, about 3,781#. That is almost a ton lighter than an average full size pickup. Excluding the heavier EVs, the next heaviest to achieve 41MPG combined is the Lexus at 3,042#. You can not beat the laws of physics, and none of these cars is very large or capable of trailer towing. How would you expect to get there with a vehicle people really want to buy and can afford?

  • Zombo Zombo on Jul 25, 2011

    It probably really doesn't matter whether these CAFE standards are enacted or not . In 15 years when a gallon of gas is 8-10 dollars consumers will demand these high mpg vehicles anyway . And if Detroit can't build them someone else will .

  • Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.
  • Master Baiter This is horrible. Delaying this ban will raise the Earth's temperature by 0.00000001°C in the year 2100.
  • Alan Buy a Skoda Superb.
  • Alan In Australia only hairdressers would buy this Monaro as its known as. Real men had 4 door sedans and well hung men drive 4x4 dual cab utes with bullbars and towbars. I personally think this is butt ugly. Later iterations of the Commodore were far better looking.
  • Jeff As a few commenters on prior articles on this site about the UAW strike mentioned many of the lower tiered suppliers could go bankrupt and some could possibly go out of business if the strike is prolonged. Decades ago Ford and GM owned many of their own suppliers but as we all know over the years manufacturers have been outsourcing more parts and with just in time supply there is little room for any interruptions to production including strikes, natural disasters, and anything unforeseen that could happen. When the strike ends there will be delays in production due to parts shortages. It costs suppliers money to just keep making parts and stockpiling them especially when many parts have razor thin profit margins.