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Automakers Do About Face on CAFE Standards

Desire for stronger rules cuts across party lines.

by on Aug.02, 2017

AAM President Mitch Bainwol said that recent polling shows consumers believe automakers should have to meet tougher emissions and fuel efficiency standards.

Automakers seem to be really trying to listen to the consumer these days. They’re shifting production to include more SUVs and crossovers and loading vehicles up with new tech, and now they’re suddenly in favor of tougher CAFE standards.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, whose members include General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp., is calling for agreement between the Trump Administration, federal regulators and the State of California.

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During a presentation at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan, Mitch Bainwol, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said consumers want tougher regulations when it comes to fuel economy and their voices should be heard.

“There is a profound consensus perspective on fuel economy and greenhouse gases,” Bainwol said during a slideshow, according to Bloomberg News. “The only issue is the degree of the slope.”

(Carmakers want peace with California. Click Here for the story.)

What caused the turn in opinion from the group that pushed hard for President Donald Trump to reinstate the review of CAFE standards? A poll.

President Donald Trump were pushed by automakers to find ways to lower CAFE standards. Now they're in favor of tougher mandates.

The Alliance’s poll, conducted by Morning Consult, found almost two thirds of consumers agreed the government should increase the standards. That support was spread pretty evenly between the two political parties: 69% of Democratic respondents and 63% of Republicans said standard should be tougher.

Before supporters of the Obama Administration’s tougher standards stand up and cheer, Bainwol isn’t saying those should be the standard. He suggested a new deal requires some compromise on how much automakers should improve fuel efficiency over time.

However, it’s an improvement over the suggestions from the current administration, which appeared to favor extending the standards for 2021 through 2025, instead of the original plan that would have called for incremental improvements during that four-year period. The end goal was a corporate fleet average of 54.5 mpg.

(Click Here to see how CARB and the EPA were ready to face off in an emissions showdown.)

The sudden call for tougher standards again sparks a much different tone that what appeared to be on the horizon. California Governor Jerry Brown said the state had no plans to soften its fuel efficiency and emissions standards.

The stance carries weight not just because California is the largest car market in the country, but also it’s allowed to set its own emissions and fuel economy standards because of a severe pollution problem a few decades ago. Since then, several other states have mimicked California’s standards, but they don’t have the authority to enforce them the way California does.

Since the Trump Administration was backing the lower standards called for by automakers and seemingly the EPA, a show down seem to be in the offing. In fact, Bainwol noted earlier this year that the sides were not close to an agreement.

“That’s why we have discussions,” he said in April, adding he hoped the midterm review will produce the kind of hard data that can bring both sides to consensus.

(Auto CEOs ask Trump for a CAFE break. Click Here for the details.)

Now it appears the consensus will center on how much improvement the new standards will mandate rather than how much they’ll cut back.

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One Response to “Automakers Do About Face on CAFE Standards”

  1. CHARLES Jackson says:

    Look if the question is asked…do you want better gas mileage…its like asking does everyone want sweets…..the needs to be a better way to relate the total lifecycle of car or truck…cost and reliablity of all added tech to get that very high miliage…I bought a car that had a diesel…get over 40 mpg…but every 90,000 mile…have to have a timing belt replace at a cost of $1250 bucks….that would have bought alot of gasoline.,,direct injection…twin turbos…etc..to make up two added cylinders from a v6 to a 4….I take the two extra cylinders or for a truck a v8 over..a turbo v6….realiabity…is most important….when considering fuel economy,,,the real numbers are not EPA sticker mpg….its cost per lifecycle…