Letter: Fuel economy standards are working


Re: Our Aug. 10 Editorial “Lighten fuel standards in 2017 review”: This misstates the findings in the federal government’s report on how automakers are meeting fuel economy standards and perpetuates a number of myths.

The reality is that the program is working, automakers have the technologies to affordably comply with the 2025 standards, and consumers will benefit as a result.

The standards agreed to by automakers in 2012 were designed to adjust to market changes, like the recent shift to larger vehicles. Larger vehicles have lower compliance targets compared to smaller vehicles.

As consumer (and automaker) preferences change, so do automakers’ overall compliance targets. There is no need to further weaken fuel economy standards in order for automakers to remain in compliance.

Contrary to the editorial’s claims, the report found that the costs of meeting the standards will be about the same or less than what was they expected in 2012. The report also estimates that the need for new technologies like electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will likely remain low — on the order of two to three percent of total sales.

The report concludes that the expected fuel savings will outweigh the costs of any new fuel-saving technologies. These findings are supported by a recent analysis from Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, that shows that consumers can expect thousands of dollars in savings over the life of their vehicle, even if gas prices remain at today’s low levels.

Automakers have been meeting, and in many cases exceeding, today’s fuel economy standards. We should encourage further progress, and support greater cost savings for consumers, by maintaining the fuel economy standards for the 2022-2025 model years.

Shannon Baker-Branstetter

Consumers Union