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"It's not impossible!"

Automakers say they're trying to meet fuel efficiency targets, but Americans like less efficient vehicles better.  (Source: GM Inside News Forum)
Automakers claim drivers don't want fuel efficient vehicles

Current fuel efficiency targets set by the Obama administration demand that average fuel efficiency of light passenger vehicles to increase to 34.1 mpg by 2016 -- an average increase of 40 percent.  Last month the Obama administration's Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rolled out a new proposal which called for much bigger improvements by 2025.

While not yet official, the proposal is to increase the fuel efficiency target to anywhere between 47 to 62 mpg by 2025, based on a 3 to 6 percent annual increase in efficiency.

Detroit's "Big Three" -- General Motor Company, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler LLC -- along with Toyota Corp. have filed a series of objections with the U.S. government, calling that plan -- particularly the high end goal of 62 mpg "impossible".  Eight other automakers also added commentary to the objection.

The consortium claims that the federal government is failing to accurately consider how fuel prices impact buyers decisions, is overstating consumer benefits of increased fuel efficiency, and is underestimating the cost of these increases to the industry.  On top of that, they say, Americans' don't seem to be very interested in fuel efficient vehicles.

Writes the group, "The question not addressed by (EPA and NHTSA) is this: If the economics for high fuel economy vehicles is so overwhelming, why do so few consumers choose to buy high fuel economy vehicle?"

The EPA and NHTSA are reportedly reviewing the objections, which they will likely take into account in drafting a finalized set of efficiency targets, enforceable by law.  According to the EPA's numbers the increase in fuel efficiency to 47 and 62 mpg would only cost $770 and $3,500, respectively per vehicle.  Those costs would like be passed on to the consumers, which would pay $12B USD to $50B USD annually for the improvements.  At least part of those increased costs, though, would be recouped over time by less frequent fill-ups.

Automakers claim the actual price of the improvements is 250 percent of the EPA's estimates.  As for the source of these inaccuracies, the industry leaders say that the government is underestimating the cost of electric vehicle batteries and weight reductions.

Further, they warn that there could be safety implications for lighter vehicles -- implications which they argue the federal proposal fails to address.

On the other side of the board are environmental action groups and a coalition of eight states led by New York and California that want a hard target of 60 mpg by 2025.  They believe that the industry is just whining about what can't be done, when they could in fact actually do it if they set their minds to it.




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