Brown: Rolling back fuel economy standards will hurt consumers

Arizonans have stated we want cars and trucks to continue getting better mileage and we do not want a rollback of money-saving fuel economy standards. And for good reason.

Diane E. Brown

Consumer Federation of America has been tracking the benefits of fuel economy standards for more than a decade and its analysis documents that the average efficiency of the American car fleet has risen by almost three miles per gallon which means that a consumer who bought a new car in 2017 is saving on average about $220 a year, at 2018 gas prices. And this savings is expected to continue to grow.

A report by the Environmental Protection Agency shows that U.S. consumers will save about $500 million over the next three decades, if the current standards remain in place.

Adding in the larger economic benefits, buoyed by consumers spending money saved on fuel on other goods and services the total is over $1 trillion. Yes, that is trillion with a “T.” Arizonans will reap these benefits as long as policy makers stay the course.

The fact is that we are enjoying the cleanest, most fuel-efficient and safest cars, trucks and SUVs in history. Recent research from Consumer Federation of America found that 2018’s “all-new” vehicles include an average of about 12 advanced safety features such as blind-spot detection and lane keeping assist, compared to an average of about seven in 2011.

In addition, drivers of “all-new” vehicles introduced in 2018 save an average of $2,605 compared to 2011 models, which eclipses the average sticker price increase. Fuel saving technologies pay not only for themselves but also for safety advancements and new high-tech features.

Safer, more fuel-efficient cars are being sold in record numbers and changing the face of the American car fleet. For the past two years alone, an average of 17 million safe and fuel-efficient vehicles have been added to the road, while over the last five years, an average of 13 million older, less safe and less efficient vehicles have been scrapped. This means safer roads, cleaner air and more money in consumers’ pockets.

Automakers meet requirements on an average basis across their entire fleet, which means that not all of the manufacturer’s models have to meet a given year’s target. This enables automakers to produce a mix of vehicles in response to consumer demand.

The bottom line is this: consumers want higher fuel efficiency, whether they’re driving a compact car or a pickup; the current fuel economy standards are delivering and saving consumers money at the pump; and, there is no reason to throw the fuel economy standards in reverse.

Please tell the administration that you want future cars, trucks and SUVs to keep getting more fuel efficient and that the current fuel economy standards should remain intact. You can weigh in directly at bit.ly/2Mhiigk.

Diane E. Brown
Executive director
Arizona PIRG (Arizona Public Interest Research Group) Education Fund

Editor’s note: The Arizona PIRG Education Fund conducts research and education on issues in the public interest.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.