By on February 22, 2017

Flint Silverado assembly plant

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s former attorney general, was sworn in to his new role as Environmental Protection Agency administrator late Friday following a 52-46 Senate vote earlier in the day.

While it isn’t known what Pruitt did over the weekend, it’s safe to say that members of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers spent at least part of that downtime drafting a letter, likely mirroring one they’ve already sent to President Donald Trump.

The group, representing 12 automakers that build 77 percent of the light-duty vehicles sold in the U.S., wants action on lowering the industry’s fuel economy and emissions targets. Urgent action, ideally. Now that there’s been a change at the top, the group feels that it might finally get its wish.

Officially, the alliance wants the EPA to reopen a midterm review of federal corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards — a process that was ended a year early when the EPA decided, with days remaining before Trump’s inauguration, to keep the Obama administration’s 2025 targets. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn’t yet issued its recommendation.

According to Automotive News, the alliance waited out the weekend and President’s Day before delivering a letter to Pruitt yesterday.

In it, the group blasted the EPA’s past decision to end the review, calling it “the product of egregious procedural and substantive defects.” The decision was “riddled with indefensible assumptions, inadequate analysis and a failure to engage with contrary evidence,” the alliance added.

The EPA is reportedly reviewing the letter. While the agency expects to receive a number of executive orders from the president, there has been no word on what action, if any, could be taken to relax auto industry regulations. Pruitt told the Senate that he would review the Obama-era policies.

In recent months, the alliance, as well as the CEOs of various automakers, have expressed concern about how CAFE targets could impact their business and the cost of vehicles. The midterm review found that automakers had made decent headway towards the 2025 goal. Still, the alliance has stood firm, stating recently that 1 million jobs are threatened by the regulations.

After Pruitt’s confirmation as EPA head, the alliance issued a release stating:

The Administrator has a keen understanding of how compliance with the government fuel economy/greenhouse gas program depends on what consumers buy, not what automakers produce. That’s why standards must also reflect market realities.

We remain convinced the best way to advance our shared goals for the environment, safety, consumer affordability and manufacturing jobs is to reinstate the data-driven review — under the originally promised schedule.

[Image: General Motors]

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50 Comments on “Automakers Didn’t Even Waste a Full Business Day Asking New EPA Head for Relief...”

  • avatar

    Working on an assembly line must make you wish to never see another unit of whatever you’re assembling.

    That would be really good aversion therapy for car junkies.

  • avatar

    New CAFE Standards are out:

    The are going to retroactively re-institute 1982 standards –

    Model Year Passenger Cars Light Trucks 2WD . 4WD Combined

    2017 24.0 . . 18.0 16.0 17.5

    • 0 avatar

      6.2 FOR EVERYONE


    • 0 avatar

      You know, what passes for “passenger cars” these days (crossovers) probably achieve just about 24 in typical day to day driving. Maybe less.

      And light trucks, hell… from Ford (and probably other makes, too) overstating the MPG on the trip computers and tuning for the EPA test, I think those are pretty much on point too.

      My 2.7L, RWD F150’s dashboard says I average about 21-22, but it’s optomistic so I’d say 19 is a lot closer. And that’s the truck rated for the highest highway MPG with a gas engine (excluding the Ridgeline) – 26. That’s an unlikely number to hit.

      The 3.5 ecoboost, and the 5.0, from anecdotes from other owners, tends to be in the mid or low teens, even in the aluminum body F150.

      Not sure about Chevy or Ram real-world MPG off the top of my head, but I’ve heard the Toyota and Nissans are pretty bad.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    The current standards/targets are borderline ridiculous. They need to be loosened a little.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      I agree. It will only result in more odd distortions of the market, like CUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      It appears that Automakers accept the fuel economy standards through 2021 with turbocharged 4 cylinder engines and 10 speed automatics/CVTs, but are pushing back at 2022-2025 fuel economy standards that force a much larger percentage of hybrids and smaller cars into the fleet average.

      • 0 avatar

        Small Cars = Small Profits.

        I need to get that V-8 500 hp monster soon.

      • 0 avatar


        The augural standards (2022-2025) are the only part of the standards they can push against without seeking legislative avenues outside of CAFE 2025. The debate we’re supposed to be having in DC about CAFE was planned as part of a midterm review for 2017 to determine if the standards are feasible or useful.

        They aren’t. To this point, we’ve been living under CAFE 2016, which was Bush-era policy founded in realism since the Democratic 111th, could push something insane through the executive branch. As soon as Bush was gone, the communists let their imaginations run wild, and they’ve installed an absurdly onerous set of regulations.

        If CAFE is enacted in it’s current form, we will lose several automotive segments, with BoF offroaders being the first to croak, regardless of their necessity in certain geographic regions. What is their sin? Their wheelbase is too short. They would be legal if they had the wheelbase of a crew-cab pickup with fullsize bed. Sure. Makes perfect sense.

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          TW5 I don’t disagree. Automakers are reaching the limits of how much they can game the system with engines and transmissions designed to do well on the test cycles.

          The way that Massachusetts vs. EPA expanded the Clean Air Act to cover carbon dioxide as a pollutant is total BS. The Obama EPA ran with that supreme court ruling plus the EPA Endangerment Finding to justify tougher fuel economy standards without any new underlying law from congress. However, the new administration is free to revisit the Endangerment Finding based on new evidence not present last decade. I predict they will change the findings and undo much of the resulting regulations.

          • 0 avatar

            Right, its the evil 1%er demons in awful corporate entities that inflict their horrible will upon us. Everything they do is underhanded and specifically designed to kill baby seals and force us to use their terrible creations to move freely across the land.

            If only Obama could’ve been dictator for life, like they do in the GOOD countries. Then we would live in a nice utopia where Al Gore would run a new “company” to supply us our new transportation units that run off puppy dog farts, Hope and Change. It’ll be affordable, just like ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act. It’ll be the Affordable Transportation Act.

            So, if you’re unemployed and need a government-issued transportation module to get yourself a brand spankin’ new job at the Shovel-Ready Job Marketplace Store, that’ll be $750/month, up front.
            You can’t afford that?
            Well, that’s the thing, see, cuz you either afford it or you’ll be fined. But, don’t worry. We’re doing this to help the poor. That just doesn’t include you, even if you’re actually poor.

        • 0 avatar

          The same communists who bailed out that industry. Because only communists would agree to rescue them with public money…

  • avatar

    Automakers Didn’t Even Waste a Full Business Day Giving Head to EPA Head

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Even without a regime change, this was inevitable.

    Consumer tastes and CAFE have been diverging for a while now, and CARB adds a third dimension to the puzzle.

    With CARB, I foresee sales quotas for each vehicle class which must either a) be met or exceeded, or b) not be exceeded. It’s the only way to force the market to do what you want. I’m talking about the spectre of seeing (for a given year) the last pickup sale in California occurring in October, while there is a fire sale on EVs – both due to quotas. Imagine a world in which you *cannot* buy a certain vehicle because your state’s allotment is sold out.

    Taxing consumers (gas guzzler, etc) won’t change much.

    A little regulation goes a long way, but I think we’re about to witness a tug-of-war between the Trump EPA and CARB. Perhaps we’ll return to having 33-state Federal cars, and 17-state CARB cars, which was formerly 49-1.

    • 0 avatar

      Consumer tastes and CAFE are quite convergent, The most popular F150 is CAFE 2024 compliant. Due to footprint basis, CAFE is quite technology and category neutral. The issue is, USA companies only have margin in pickups to make them CAFE compliant, their smaller cheaper cars lack margin for R&D. The result amplifies the small car market problems. So Ford (etc) need to sell their trucks to give them more CAFE credits so they can continue to sell smaller cars. Effectively the opposite of Europe regs.

      CARB is different, because CARB regs were created when bureaucrats thought Tesla would be another Fisker,(and that Mirai would be the future) they totally miss forecast Californian EV car sales by about 100%. Current CARB plans make nearly nil effect on the market except for a few compliance cars (and hydrogen) sold at discount. Will that change in the future, more butting heads between CARB and EPA, but as long as Tesla delivers, CARB is stupid, do they really need to spend all that money on Hydrogen?

      • 0 avatar

        Everyone knows CAFE is laughable regarding full-size truck standards. Besides their relative ease to achieve, the full-size pickup segment also has the most imbedded goodies in the law, like credit multipliers for building a few hybrid trucks or installing start-stop.

        CAFE 2025 is set to achieve exactly what CAFE 1979 achieved. Force consumers into bigger fullsize trucks, which are CAFE compliant and appear to be better value for money. Then the American economy will be wrecked by oil supply shortage again.

        CAFE is a ridiculous policy initiative, written by ridiculous people who hate spending US dollars on serious problems, like dwindling US transportation capability.

        • 0 avatar

          CAFE isn’t forcing people into pickups. CAFE makes it more profitable for companies to invest in pickups. We saw that in the 70’s. GVW limits put pickups and BOF SUV’s outside of most fuel/emissions and safety rules. Car companies invested heavily in that segment. Cars were basically neglected. This is where the Japanese was handed the car market.
          We now have footprint rules which still means less effort is needed to meet mpg standards for a 20 ft long truck.

          • 0 avatar

            CAFE killed the fullsize V8 sedan and replaced it with a less efficient full size pickup. CAFE doesn’t make margins for the manufacturers. Consumers make margins.

            CAFE 2025 will achieve the same results as 1979. To date, CAFE 2016 has driven people towards CUVs. CAFE 2025 turns up the heat on CUVs, and the costs could make the prohibitive, unless other segments are dropped.

            You can have two cars under CAFE 2025. Prius or crew cab long-bed fullsize pickup. Everything else is taboo, and will only be allowed through the purchasing of hybrid indulgences from the high-priests at the EPA. The number of segments that survive the cull will rely largely on which consumers are willing to buy the indulgences.

            CAFE 2025 made sense when oil prices didn’t make sense. In other words, it has virtually no redeeming qualities for people who live in the real world.

          • 0 avatar

            “CAFE killed the fullsize V8 sedan and replaced it with a less efficient full size pickup.”

            Except full-size pickups now are better than V8 full-size sedans then. An improvement has still been made.

          • 0 avatar

            “You can have two cars under CAFE 2025. Prius or crew cab long-bed fullsize pickup. Everything else is taboo”


            I don’t see how an ATS getting 26MPG is worse for climate change than a Silverado 1500 getting 23MPG, but truck is in 2025 compliance and the car is at like 2013 level.

            If we absolutely need a CAFE system, then make it footprint neutral and set it at the 2025 light truck level.

          • 0 avatar

            “CAFE killed the fullsize V8 sedan and replaced it with a less efficient full size pickup.”

            Is that why a 1984 LTD Crown Victoria costs $4,250
            more in fuel costs over 5 years compared to the
            average new vehicle, while a 2.7L EcoBoost 2wd F-150 is only $1500 more?
            Why the combined average MPG for the Crown Vic is 16 while the F-150’s is 21?

        • 0 avatar

          Oh noes! Another shortage?

          Wait, there never was a shortage. It was OPEC with their greedyness, the it was Peak Oil, and now they’ve found enough oil for centuries, right here in the USA.

          But $14/gallon gas is right around the corner! Better buy a Prius C instead of something you actually want, meets your needs *and* you can afford!

  • avatar

    They might as well drop the standards pronto — the world is going to heck in a handbasket, so we might as well enjoy ourselves !!

  • avatar

    Welcome to Casa de Cadillac sir. …. when you order your new 2017 Fleetwood Brougham, you know, you may want to consider the 500 c.i. over the standard 472. How many liters is that? I’m sorry sir, we don’t acknowledge liters anymore, the metric system has been abolished. MAGA!

  • avatar
    George B

    Here’s the actual text of the letter from Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers to Scott Pruitt.

    They are asking for the EPA to revisit the fuel economy rules for model years 2022-2025. Presumably they accept the fuel economy rules through 2021.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “Presumably they accept the fuel economy rules through 2021.”

    That’s because that model year’s cars are already designed, not because the auto makers like the 2021 standards.

  • avatar

    Even though I am a big believer in environmental protection, I do believe there is room to adjust the mileage standards. However, they are not after a reasonable goal change – nothing has been said, but no way are they going to settle for a modest adjustment. I’ll bet they go for the full rollback to Bush era standards. And our selfish Republican congress will gladly give it to them. Of course, they will have to pledge to keep/move some jobs here. T-Rump will need that political capital.

    The Administrator has a keen understanding of how compliance with the government fuel economy/greenhouse gas program depends on what consumers buy, not what automakers produce. That’s why standards must also reflect market realities….

    Not quite true. Part of that statement is why I think there is room to discuss adjusting the standards. But I’d bet that most would opt for better mileage than faster cars. But you don’t have such an option. Let’s be honest – do we really need a V6 Camry with better acceleration than a 1960s musclecar? Even the four is fast. But you have limited choice if you want eco models of a car like this unless you spend for a hybrid or your choice is a economy car. A Camry with a 0 to 60 time of 10 seconds with a healthy mpg boost over present 4 cylinder mileage would be the volume seller as long as it was not handicapped by being limited to cheap trim levels.

    • 0 avatar

      CAFE is a fail safe. That’s all it can be. Trying to affect change with CAFE regulations really is like trying to make people to lose weight by forcing tailors to make smaller clothes. We’re more likely to end up with bunches of naked fat people and a thriving black/gray market.

      • 0 avatar

        Losing weight has countless obvious health benefits that the individual can recognize. Without regulation, lowering MPG standards beyond the status quo (minimum efficiency accepted by consumers) has almost zero incentive.

        Our impact on the environment is the perfect arena for government to provide artificial incentive to make corporations more responsible in a capitalistic society because there is no carbon feedback mechanism to the boardrooms…it is all revenue and O&M.

        The industry spent years circumventing the regulations instead of committing to EVs. Commitment to CAFE is Tesla and all they had was “fresh eyes”.

        CAFE was meant to jolt some consciousness into an industry barreling towards profit margins.

  • avatar

    But, but.. we were told by the liberal media that Obama’s legacy was set in stone, and none of his executive orders could be overturned for at least four decades.

  • avatar

    Eventually the democrats will be back in power and they will re-institute the standards and maybe even stricter to make up for lost time.

  • avatar

    Good luck with CARB. There will be blood.

  • avatar

    CAFE has given us too many distortions. We wonder where the station wagons are…we don’t get them. If you have a flat floor in the back it is considered a “truck”, so the big wagon your parents had is now a full sized SUV. Each market has its distortion-displacement, size requirements, or horsepower…even high fuel prices.

    We end up with trucks instead of cars, the exact opposite of the goal.

    Horsepower increases are because in a glutted market, they’ve been forced to give us the one thing the OE would hold out on and make us pay….that extra 50 hp, usually buried in two other packages with mandatory upcharges….and most of the time the tweaks don’t cost that much if anything at OE.

  • avatar

    So when gas spikes to $5/gallon and they go bankrupt… again, I guess we’ll just bail them out … again.

  • avatar

    New EPA: “If you like your SUV, you can keep your SUV.”

  • avatar

    “1 million jobs are threatened”

    I can’t imagine the shock of the AAM when after years of rigorous analysis, test cases, and market simulations the report spit out that exactly 1,000,000.00 jobs would be “threatened”. They must have been really worried that people might think they just pulled a big scary number out of their ass. Anyway, kudos to the brave new administration’s unlimited distribution of easy buttons. Its obvious ‘merica can’t do anything that sounds hard anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Except the foreign makers are by in large on the same page. I think it needs to at least be reviewed given the politics behind how those standards were locked in while the moving truck was parked at the White House.

      And you talk about easy? Cars are the low hanging fruit with regard to curbing fossil fuel. You pass a law and it is someone else’s problem to figure it out. If you are serious about curbing their use you have to look at things like power generation and air travel too. That first one in particular is challenging to the Government because municipal governments are tied up in power generation so it can’t just be passed off to a private entity that is already in the governments pocket and their is very real job loss tied to moving away from fuels like coal with which the government will have to deal with.

  • avatar

    Just as an example of what CAFE has done. Most recent BMWs have an electric water pump to take the mechanical pump load off the engine to tweak out a few extra tenths of an MPG in the CAFE tests. These pumps cost between $600 to $1000 installed and are not a DIY job, and it is common to need a replacement at about 60,000 miles. I remember changing the mechanical water pump on my BMW 2002 at about 100,000 miles, easy DIY job and the pump was less the $50. Without CAFE, BMW would never make such a change, because the gas savings from the electric pump will never be high enough to pay for the higher pump cost.

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