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Should More Fuel-Efficient Vehicles be Required by Law?. Geology 107: Our Dynamic Planet By: Hillary Green. "This is a plan that will save gas and result in less pain at the pump for motorists without sacrificing safety.” --Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. Proposed Plan.

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should more fuel efficient vehicles be required by law

Should More Fuel-Efficient Vehicles be Required by Law?

Geology 107: Our Dynamic Planet

By: Hillary Green

"This is a plan that will save gas and result in less pain at the pump for motorists without sacrificing safety.”

--Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta

proposed plan
Proposed Plan

The Department of Transportation announced a plan that requires auto manufacturers boost fuel efficiency by six percent on SUVs and light trucks by 2008. All automakers would have to comply fully by 2011. They hope to save approximately 10 billion gallons of gasoline over the life of vehicles built between 2008 and 2011.

facts and figures
Facts and Figures
  • New system would divide light trucks into six categories. Smaller vehicles would be required to get better gas mileage than larger trucks.
  • Currently automakers must maintain an average of 21 mpg for light trucks and for 2007 model year will have to meet 22.2 mpg.
  • There is the option to use the old system through 2010. Automakers would then have to meet 22.5 mpg average in 2008, 23.1 mpg in 2009, and 23.5 mpg in 2010.
facts and figures5
Facts and Figures
  • Under the new system, the standards would range as high as 26.8 mpg in 2008 for smaller vehicles( ex. Chrysler PT Cruiser & Toyota RAV 4) to 20.4 mpg for large vehicles (ex. Chevrolet Silverado and the Dodge Ram)
  • By 2010 the standards for mpg would range from 27.8 to 20.8.
  • Automakers earn credits for exceeding the minimum in certain categories and apply them to a category where they don’t meet the standard.
plan continued
Plan (continued)
  • The auto industry and interest groups will evaluate the plan over the next three months. The proposal must be finalized by April 2006 to take effect for the 2008 model year.
auto industry reaction
Auto Industry Reaction
  • Automakers say to achieve higher fuel efficiency they will have to build smaller, lighter vehicles which are less safe to drive.
  • American automakers cite a disadvantage against foreign competitors because sales of large SUVS must be offset by the sale of smaller models to comply with the fuel efficiency standards.
  • Mike Jackson, chairman and chief executive of Auto Nation Inc., the nation’s largest publicly traded dealer group, is suggesting a yearly increase of 10 cents per gallon in the gas tax over the next decade.
"At a time when Americans are paying record prices for gas, the Bush administration has sided with its cronies in the auto industry and rejected real solutions." --Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club's global warming program.
critical reactions
Critical Reactions
  • Environmental advocates say that this plan doesn’t do enough to reduce dependence on foreign oil.
  • Passenger cars and light trucks, a vehicle category that includes pickups, minivans and SUVs, only account for about 40 percent of the nation's oil use.
  • Automakers who used the old system would only have to boost the fuel economy an average of 1.3 mpg, less than the requirements for 2004 -2007.
"One of the fundamental problems with the system is automakers can add size, in some cases only a tiny amount, and meet a dramatically lower standard,” said David J. Friedman, research director for the clean vehicles program of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

For example, the Subaru Outback, currently in the smallest class of vehicles, could be made less than an inch wider and longer and move up into the next size grouping, thereby lowering its fuel economy requirement.

Critics say the American market should dictate consumers. Thanks to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, they believe the high cost of gasoline will naturally induce people to buy more fuel efficient cars.
  • The possibility of improved fuel efficiency could force automakers to raise prices of vehicles. This might discourage owners from buying new cars, instead they would keep their older, inefficient cars for longer.
a good start but
A good start but…
  • This is a step in the right direction, however, it is not doing enough:
    • Exempts the largest SUVS which are the biggest part of the problem.
    • Doesn’t hold the automobile industry completely accountable by
      • giving automakers the option of continuing to use the old system.
      • creating loopholes that weaken requirements
    • Still maintains the dependency upon foreign oil.
what can be done
What can be done:
  • Make fuel-economy standards applicable to all vehicles.
  • Require all automobile makers to comply with the plan immediately.
  • Reevaluate vehicle classification.
  • Promote use of alternative sources of energy through government refunds and tax incentives.
  • “New Fuel Proposal Fuels Debate” CBS News
  • “Federal Mandate Fuels Debate” Tribune Democrat
  • “Switching to Renewable Energy Gets Easier” Brad Foss, Associate Press, MSNBC
  • “New Fuel Standards Proposed” Margaret Webb Pressler, Washington Post