Implications of new vehicle fuel efficiency standards

The Obama administration has just imposed a new corporate average fuel economy mandate (CAFE) that would require an American company’s fleet of automobiles and light trucks to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The stated rationale for these strict standards is to reduce U.S. oil imports and to limit emissions of carbon dioxide.

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) said of these new standards:

“This is an undemocratic, dangerous, and costly decision. The Obama administration’s heavy-handed regulation overrides American’s automobile preferences and imposes the choices of unelected bureaucrats on consumers.

Forcing ever-higher fuel economy mandates will lead to less safe cars and more automobile fatalities and injuries, according to leading safety experts. The problem with downsizing cars, according to the International Institute for Highway Safety, is that ‘smaller, lighter vehicles generally are less protective of their occupants in crashes.

Because the fuel economy mandate drives up the price of cars and trucks, millions of hard-working Americans will be priced out of the market..

 The federal government has a responsibility to provide information about fuel economy, but not the responsibility to dramatically limit people’s automobile choices because of the administration’s anti-fossil fuel agenda.”

The federal government estimates that these stricter standards will increase the price of a new car by about $3,000, a price at which the National Automobile Dealers Association said will price about 7 million potential customers out of the market. Other estimates place the additional cost at as much as $4,800 per car.

To be more fuel efficient, cars and light trucks will have to be smaller, lighter, and less crash-worthy.

An article in American Products American Power, a trade group, notes the grim statistics:

“In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences reported that the down weighting and downsizing that occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, some of which was due to fuel economy standards, probably resulted in an additional 1,300 to 2,600 traffic fatalities in 1993. A study at Harvard and the Brookings Intuition found that downsizing vehicles was associated with a 14- to 27 percent increase in occupant fatality risk. This means that between 41,000 and 125,000 people have died because of these fuel economy mandates.”

The new mandate will make cars even more dangerous.

The premise that the mandate will reduce U.S. oil imports is flawed because it is the federal government itself that limits production of our abundant domestic resources. Lifting the government-imposed bans on exploration and production would reduce our imports.

That premise is also flawed because we find that people who own more-fuel efficient cars tend to drive more, thus at least partially negating the expected drop in total fuel consumption.

Where did the number 54.5 mpg come from? That is the number the Obama administration estimates would be necessary to cut vehicle carbon dioxide emissions in half according to the Arizona Daily Star.

This is all part of Obama’s war on fossil fuels and the carbon dioxide – global warming hoax. A few years ago, using IPCC figures, I calculated the alleged temperature rise supposedly caused by emissions of a family car. The result was three one-hundred-billionths of a degree C.

Under that assumption, if we were to replace our entire fleet of about 250 million vehicles (estimate from DOT) with vehicles that had half the current CO2 emissions, it could possibly prevent a theoretical warming of 0.00035 degrees C. Wow, that’s really worth it don’t you think?

See also:

A Modest Proposal: Triple Your Carbon Footprint

Does the Chevy Volt produce more CO2 from its battery than from its gasoline engine

Electricity generated by wind power may raise temperatures and costs

Which Vehicles Are Most Energy Efficient?

See why attempts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions  will have no effect on global temperature:

Which comes first, rise in global CO2 or rise in global temperature?



  1. In the UK, I drove a Ford Mondeo with a 4 cylinder turbo diesel that got … 55 mpg consistently … combined city/highway driving … and plenty peppy, too!!

    If Ford is already meeting the future US standards in the UK, why is there such a big problem of doing it here? The technology already exists … we don’t need smaller less crash worthy cars … that Ford Mondeo was a mid-sized 4 door, and plenty comfy too, AND got fantastic mileage per gallon.

    Let’s just get it done here … the big three have already proved that obtaining a much higher MPG rating is not a problem at all … they are already doing it!!

  2. You know it is funded by the Kochs how?
    And why not let consumers decide what kind of car they want to buy rather than have the government mandate what is available?

  3. “The federal government has a responsibility to provide information
    about fuel economy, but not the responsibility to dramatically limit
    people’s automobile choices because of the administration’s anti-fossil
    fuel agenda”.

    – That sounded like the same drivel I’ve been hearing for years, so I looked it up. CAFE standards were introduced in 1978, when the CAFE standard for passenger cars was 18mpg. In 1981 it was 22mpg, in 1988 it was 26mpg – an increase of over 18% during the administration of that notorious fossil fuel hater, Ronald Reagan. The CAFE standard hit 27.5mpg in 1990 and then was stuck there for the next 20 years, until it was raised to 30.2mpg in 2011. We have some catching up to do. Better fuel economy is better for everyone – well, except maybe OPEC.

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