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Some government officials warn that pushing manufacturers to produce EVs will take away access to cheaper hybrids, diesels. Tesla Model S pictured above.  (Source: Tesla Motors)
All lawmakers in Washington aren't behind Obama's proposed CAFE standards

One of President Obama's many focuses these days seems to be ensuring that the U.S. has less dependence on foreign oil than it has today by time he leaves office. The Obama administration has been working hard with states and automakers to come to agreement on the CAFE regulations that will govern the required fleet wide fuel economy figures in the future.

The final standard that Obama is wanting forces a fleetwide average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by 2025. That doesn't count heavy-duty trucks though; those types of vehicles have separate fuel economy standards to adhere too. This week, John D. Graham, who headed the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2001-2006, said that the Obama administration is overstating the benefits of the 54.5mpg fleetwide average.

Graham also criticized the plan to give automakers credits for building electric vehicles and failed to take into account the impact of generating the electricity the vehicles use. Graham also claims that Obama is overstating the long-term benefits of the increased fuel economy standards and is forecasting higher fuel prices than what the Energy Information Agency is predicting.

Graham is not alone in making claims that the CAFE standards aren't going to do what the Obama administration is claiming. Rep. Darrell Issa (R, CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, went so far as to claim that giving double credits to automakers for EVs is akin to "fudging the numbers." Issa claims that automakers might be forced into building EVs at the expense of clean diesel or hybrid vehicles.

Starting in 2017, automakers will be able to use credits on EVs for less efficient vehicles in their fleet. Rep. Mike Kelly (R, PA) went so far as to say the 54.5mpg requirement would harm consumer choice and put the future of private transportation at risk.

"We're picking and choosing what people are allowed to drive and not drive or purchase," Kelly warned.

Graham echoed that statement, adding, "[One key issue for regulators] is whether the quest for more energy savings will inadvertently hurt consumers by causing vehicle manufacturers to produce cars and trucks that do not satisfy customer preferences for vehicle size, performance and/or safety.”

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By dusteater on 9/15/2011 2:15:37 PM , Rating: 2
The government has no business telling any auto maker what they can and cannot build. It's out of control.

RE: Bad
By johnsmith9875 on 9/15/11, Rating: -1
RE: Bad
By DFranch on 9/15/11, Rating: -1
RE: Bad
By Reclaimer77 on 9/15/2011 3:26:14 PM , Rating: 2
You're a moron. Airbags were researched and developed by automakers BEFORE they were made mandatory equipment. The rest of your argument is typical elitist Statist garbage; "all good comes from the Government"

RE: Bad
By ipay on 9/15/2011 5:22:36 PM , Rating: 2
Fuel-efficiency has always been researched by the automakers too. Not sure what your point was.

RE: Bad
By Keeir on 9/15/2011 7:20:00 PM , Rating: 2
His point, which is a valid one,

Government rarely significantly/effectively drives positive changes in the marketplace.

Consumer Demand drives changes effectively and efficiently.

In the case of Fuel Economy Standards,

CAFE targets the producers of automobiles... not the consumers of gasoline and as such will always be a terrible way to approach the problem.

CAFE is a blame-shift. Politicans get credit for more efficient cars and the Automakers get the blame for higher cost/lower quality cars.

RE: Bad
By Keeir on 9/15/2011 7:25:50 PM , Rating: 2
Errr... where is the second half?

Gasoline Taxes would be a very effective and efficient way to address the problem as they target all consumers of gasoline. However, this would cause people to blame the Government and praise the Automaker.

In the US's highly shifting republic, clearly its in the Politicians best interest to take credit, even if the end result is suboptimal and requires significant juggling behind the scenes. (Ensuring compliance to CAFE rules must be significantly more costly and difficult than simply having a 20% tax on gasoline purchases. CAFE also allows sheniagans like Ethanol, Electric, etc biases... good for the politicians pocket book)

RE: Bad
By smitty3268 on 9/15/2011 10:00:04 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, I agree completely that gas taxes would be a far more effective way to reduce usage. However, that will never happen because any politician suggesting that would be immediately voted out of office. So, we are left with either CAFE or nothing.

All the OP was saying is that just because automakers were already researching airbags doesn't mean they would be commonplace today without the mandatory government interference. They could be one of those expensive options, like heated seats, that a lot of people get but others pass on. They could be pretty common, but left out of the most tiny subcompact cars. Or they could be everywhere, who knows. As long as car buyers ask what the MPG is when they buy cars, manufacturers are always going to compete on that front as well, so making a certain limit mandatory doesn't seem exceptionally different than the rule on airbags to me.

RE: Bad
By Keeir on 9/16/2011 2:15:08 PM , Rating: 3
Errr... its very different.

An Airbag, or any discrete safety regulation, is a usually an on/off regulation. This creates a fair and even playing field and relatively small market distortion.

But its worth noting that in the United States, only 2 front airbags are required, and in the United Kingdom, no airbag is required provided the car passes certain safety standards.

Yet the Nissan Versa Sedan, the cheapest new car I can think of, comes standard with 6! airbags. Far exceeding the US base requirement. Hmmm... how can that be? The Nissan Versa also far exceeds the US safety requirements in many key area... because it wants to score highly on publically availible safety tests which are funded by the Government and Private Insurance.

Yet again, in the case of Airbags, regulation does not seem to create a significant addition. Consumer demand for the safest cars drive even the most basic cars to exceed the current US requirements. The original laws were just an attempt to steal credit by politicians.

With CAFE its even murkier. CAFE attempts to regulate the types of cars consumed by fining the producers of said cars.

Face with CAFE and a country that wants to consume large cars, trucks, etc, I might be tempted to produce large numbers of cheap fuel efficient cars at nearly no profit a unit in order to allow me to sell large numbers of high demand cars for a large profit. This was the stradegy of nearly every US car company!

Thanks CAFE for bringing us the SUV/CUV! Thanks CAFE for making it more profitable to sell one SUV than 10 small cars! Thanks CAFE for making it undesirable to make a quality/expensive small car!

CAFE comes with a whole host of unintented consquences and doesn't really acchieve it fundamental purpose. It you can't do something good or helpful, it might be better to do nothing at all.

RE: Bad
By lagomorpha on 9/16/2011 5:30:57 PM , Rating: 2
Iirc airbags were originally developed by NASA who quickly decided they were a terrible idea and abandoned the idea. It was the government that mandated the front airbags that break children's necks more often than they save people and ignored the side curtain airbags that sometimes do prevent injuries. So yeah go government.

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