While consumers may be demanding big increases in automotive fuel economy, the Obama Administration has apparently bowed to industry pressure as it prepares to set new mileage standards reaching out to 2025.
The White House reportedly has advised automakers and industry trade groups that it will look to boost the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard to 56.2 mpg. That’s a big jump from the 37.5 mile per gallon target now in place for 2016, but significantly lower than the 62 mpg goal that the Environmental Protection Agency had originally been considering for the next bump in CAFE.
The roughly 10% cut in the 2025 standard now under consideration reflects the changing political fortunes in Washington; indeed, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has largely dismissed concerns about global warming, one of the factors that had led the EPA to consider a 62 mpg figure. Automakers, meanwhile, have been loudly arguing that this number could price most new car buyers out of the market and lead to sharp declines in industry earnings — and jobs.
But even the GOP and auto industry officials seem to recognize the mood of an electorate frustrated by this year’s near-record run-up in fuel prices — and worried by forecasts gas might soon nudge $5 a gallon.