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29 June 2017

Almost 90 Percent Of Americans Want Better Vehicle Fuel Economy


Consumers Union Study: Almost 90 Percent Of Americans Want Better Vehicle Fuel Economy

Although the Trump administration has retracted a commitment to previously settled mpg regulations, consumers overwhelmingly want things to move ahead.

This is just one of several findings of a non-partisan survey from Consumers Union supporting CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) rules set by the Obama administration, and put on hold at the behest of automakers.

Those same automakers once had a voice in the formation of said rules for 2022-2025, and expressed support for them, but critics observe when the Trump administration came in talking about deregulation, automakers were quick to ask for consideration.

SEE ALSO: Automaker Alliance Seeking to Influence Midterm Evaluation of Federal Fuel Economy Rules

“Increasing vehicle efficiency is strongly supported by both Republicans and Democrats,” says Consumers Union in its latest commentary on the politically charged issue.

“Coming in as number one, fuel economy was identified by more than a third (35%) of consumers as the area with the most room for improvement in their current vehicle – three times greater than horsepower or connectivity and four times greater than vehicle size,” said Consumers Union.

Consumers Union notes a new Senate bill seeks to amend parts of the federal fuel economy program offering automakers retroactive credits toward their fuel economy targets.

This, says the organization, would be “a move that would likely stall progress on further increasing vehicle efficiency, especially larger vehicles, and cost consumers more in the long run.”

Above are background facts, but the Consumers Union survey mainly lets facts of its own do the talking.

“Nearly 3 out of 4 Americans (73%) agree that the U.S. government should continue to increase fuel efficiency standards and enforce them, with nearly 80% of Americans agreeing that increasing the real-world average economy from 25 miles per gallon today to 40 miles per gallon is a worthwhile goal,” said Consumers Union in a statement.

SEE ALSO: CAFE’s Midterm Evaluation For 2022-2025 Could Electrify Automakers One Way Or The Other

The tact Consumers Union, parent of Consumer Reports, takes is to give voice to consumers to do the talking for them.

Its refrain otherwise joins league with a recent analysis by Consumer Federation of America, and multiple advocacy groups opposing a move to slow regulatory pressure.

Others, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, of course take the environmental angle, and that advocacy is collecting funds to “stop” Trump who hired a long-time EPA critic as its new head to reverse numerous policies.

While Consumers Union may be sympathetic to environmental issues as well, it states only what consumers resoundingly want, perhaps hoping to gain the ear of the president who says he is a champion of business, and wants to “make America great again.”

On the weekend leading toward July 4, Independence Day, the people have spoken on this issue, one might surmise.

“Even as gas prices remain low, consumers want to decrease spending on fuel,” says Consumers Union. “While nearly 9 in 10 consumers agree that automakers should continue to improve the fuel efficiency for all vehicles, only 30% of Americans believe automakers care about lowering fuel costs for their customers.”

“Consumers viewed brands less favorably if the brand took a position that improving fuel efficiency was either too costly or not important, while brands that suggested increasing fuel efficiency was an important goal resulted in higher favorability,” said Consumers Union. “Brands identified as manufacturing the most efficient vehicles (Toyota and Honda) were also identified as producing the best overall vehicles.”

Americans have also shown in light of inexpensive gas a migration in buying preferences back toward larger, more powerful vehicles. While almost four-dozen hybrids, and numerous plug-in vehicles are available, choices in larger family haulers, and AWD crossovers are yet few.

“Another 8 in 10 Americans (79%) also agree that it is important to make larger vehicles, including SUVs and trucks, more efficient,” said Consumer Union.

SEE ALSO: GM, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and Connecticut Auto Dealer Association Oppose ‘Loophole’ For Tesla

No doubt weekly fuel bills to power higher horsepower, larger vehicles – even with gas in the low $2 range in much of the country is a consideration, and when asked, consumers said they’d like more efficient big vehicles.

“With summer driving season underway, consumers don’t want to spend more on gas than they have to,” said Baker-Branstetter. “Even with low gas prices, consumers still want fuel economy to improve, including in larger vehicles. Automakers should pay attention to these findings and develop more efficient vehicles to give consumers what they want.”

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