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Romney says the new standards are "extreme," but Obama disagrees

This week was particularly monumental for the auto industry as the Obama administration finalized the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The new rules have faced some criticism, but President Barack Obama isn’t backing down.
The criticism comes from Obama’s presidential election opponent Mitt Romney, who believes there is a better method of increasing fuel economy than changing CAFE standards.

"Just yesterday, my opponent called my position on fuel efficiency standards extreme," said Obama. "It doesn't seem extreme to me to want to build more fuel efficient cars. Maybe the steam engine is more his speed."

Obama further added that the new CAFE standards will allow U.S. drivers to fill up their gas tanks "half as often." But when the new rules were finalized Tuesday, Romney failed to see the benefit to driving citizens. 

"Governor Romney opposes the extreme standards that President Obama has imposed, which will limit the choices available to American families," said Andrea Saul, Romney spokeswoman. "The president tells voters that his regulations will save them thousands of dollars at the pump, but always forgets to mention that the savings will be wiped out by having to pay thousands of dollars more upfront for unproven technology that they may not even want."

The new fuel efficiency standards for 2017-2025 will cost the auto industry $157.3 billion and add an average of $2,000 extra to the sticker price of new autos.

While some are clearly unhappy with the new standards, others are seeing added benefits. Honda, for example, was delighted to see that the standards provided extra credits for those selling natural gas-powered vehicles. Tesla also jumped on the CAFE bandwagon when it learned that it could sell any credits for surpassing the standards to companies that haven't.

The CAFE standards will raise the average fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks to 54.5 mpg by model year 2025. These new standards, which were created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOTs) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), were based off of the Obama Administration's first standards raised average fuel efficiency to 35.5 mpg by 2016. It was intended for cars and light trucks during model years 2011-2016.

The 54.5 mpg CAFE standard aims to save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump, cut U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6 billion metric tons over the course of the program, and encourage the adoption of autos like electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids. 

Source: The Detroit News

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RE: Clueless
By Brandon Hill on 8/30/2012 8:26:06 PM , Rating: 2
Reclaimer, I have a question for you. What's your opinion on a vehicle like the '13 Nissan Altima which gets 27/38 in its base (volume) configuration?

It's priced no higher than the previous generation model and its dramatic increase in mpg (23/32 for the previous gen) was a direct result of upcoming CAFE regulations according to Nissan engineers.

It's a win/win for the consumer. Big increase in fuel efficiency at no added cost.

RE: Clueless
By MechanicalTechie on 8/30/12, Rating: -1
RE: Clueless
By Targon on 8/30/2012 9:01:54 PM , Rating: 2
I don't object to the CAFE standards going up, but Ethanol reduces fuel economy, so acts AGAINST the improvements that auto companies have been working on. If they want to force CAFE, then kill the fracking Ethanol requirements and let us see the fuel economy that auto makers intend our cars to get.

RE: Clueless
By OoklaTheMok on 8/30/2012 9:13:23 PM , Rating: 2
Only problem is that apparently, adding a small amount of Ethanol, really helps to mitigate smog production.

Ethanol as a main fuel component? No way, it was never a good idea. I think it was really just a thing pushed by those who wanted to make money off of corn futures. I do think true bio-diesel is a good alternative, but not with the current pseudo-bio-diesel and the associtated price gouging. It costs less to make diesel, and even bio-diesel, but it costs more than gas... why?

RE: Clueless
By Rukkian on 8/31/2012 9:58:52 AM , Rating: 2
I would have no problem with ethanol if it came from a non-food source. Using farmland and crops to power cars is not a good idea, and is increasing the prices of pretty much everything we buy, and I live in Iowa where many people actually benefit from the high prices of corn.

RE: Clueless
By ppardee on 8/30/2012 8:56:48 PM , Rating: 2
If they were able to easily increase the gas mileage of the vehicle before, why didn't they?

The truth is that the increase in gas mileage required R&D, which had a cost. The MSRP of the vehicle didn't increase, but that doesn't mean that the efficiency increase didn't have any added cost. SOMEONE paid for it. The cost is ultimately passed on to the consumer directly or indirectly.

More importantly, when will this end? This 20% increase in fuel economy is great, but we'll quickly hit the point of diminishing returns. Going from 32 to 38 MPG saves half a gallon of fuel per 100 miles driven. The next half-gallon savings is at about 47 mpg, then 61 mpg, then 88, then 158mpg, then 769mpg... And then we can't save another half gallon of gas per 100 miles driven. My point is that it makes very little sense forcing MPG restrictions on already-efficient cars. We need to focus on the gas guzzlers.

But that's expensive and there is no market incentive for that to happen, which is why it hasn't. POTUS's preposterous position is pointless posturing. And it will cost quite a bit in the long run... But what should he care? He's got quite a pension starting in January.

RE: Clueless
By Reclaimer77 on 8/30/12, Rating: 0
RE: Clueless
By Philippine Mango on 8/30/2012 9:42:11 PM , Rating: 2
I could easily take a shower and make my parents happy and my neighbors want to invite me over to their house, but I choose not to because I'm lazy... Same sort of thinking. Once electric cars become plentiful, I think CAFE standards may become irrelevant but then again, I think history shows than people take the path of least resistance and if automakers can make electric vehicles that only get 30mpge, they'll do it, even if it's wasting energy in the most obvious, atrocious ways.

RE: Clueless
By Targon on 8/31/2012 10:20:29 PM , Rating: 2
You are looking at things from a perspective that the auto makers can just snap their fingers and magically improve fuel economy. It takes a combination of technologies to get the improvements we have seen in fuel economy over the past few years, and those technologies needed to be worked on and matured before they COULD be used properly.

Just look at fuel injection which leads to direct injection. You need computer power to make these two things work for example, and as things mature, new things become possible. On the flip side, hybid and full EV technologies require advances in battery technology to really make them a logical "every car will have one of those technologies". EVs won't take off until the range approaches at least 200 miles per charge, while hybrids will drop in cost as battery technology improves(batteries take less space and less weight if each battery cell holds far more power than they do today).

You do hit the nail on the head about the problems with CAFE, the laws of diminishing returns as the technology advances, so the idea that car makers can just snap their fingers and make improvements is again the big issue. Just throwing money at a problem does NOT make things happen, or we would have had cold fusion reactors and flying cars by now.

RE: Clueless
By Reclaimer77 on 8/30/12, Rating: -1
RE: Clueless
By sigmatau on 8/30/2012 9:38:24 PM , Rating: 1
You are such a fool. I can't believe I'm wasting my time on you. Most midsize cars will have much higher fuel economy in the next year or two. Even the Ford Fusion matches the Altima at about the same price. If you can't see that the car manufactures were dragging their feet then you need to wake the f up!

RE: Clueless
By Ringold on 8/30/2012 11:58:15 PM , Rating: 2
It just doesn't make logical sense for them all to drag their feet, if thats what they were doing. It's a classic prisoners dilemma; if just one automaker had the ability to significantly increase fuel efficiency at little to no extra cost, they were confronted with two options..

1) Hold the line in an illegal collusion (which would make Democrats wet their pants if they could prove) and make X dollars profit

2) Rape the first-mover advantage for everything its worth and make a multiple of X, possibly succeeding so well as to force competing firms to close shop forever.

Given that these are profit-maximizing firms, what is the liberal logic to hold tight to option 1? I'll point out, btw, that even the OPEC cartel is partly a myth, as almost all members under-report their production. Generally they all pump flat-out, except Saudi Arabia.

And before you jump to a conclusion, remember that some automakers are still relatively "foreign," and have no cultural or personal attachment that would make them hesitate to lay their competitors low if given the chance. I've no doubt if GM could destroy Hyundai, they wouldn't bat an eye.

So yes, let the leftist conspiracy logic flow forth.

RE: Clueless
By sigmatau on 8/31/2012 12:01:38 AM , Rating: 1
I don't bother with Reclaimer's lapdog.

RE: Clueless
By Ringold on 8/31/2012 1:37:44 AM , Rating: 3
Prisoners dilemma, a cornerstone in economics, a basic concept used at the introduction to all modern logical game theory, expounded upon from the bachelors level up to PhD research, yeah. Ignore logic, ignore that education you likely received. Lets just roll with unsupported supposition instead. Troll.

RE: Clueless
By thirdshop on 8/31/2012 9:39:03 AM , Rating: 2
The way the prisoners dilemma work is that both will be better off if neither prisoner says anything. However, studies show that the majority will jump at a perceived advantage and betray the other prisoner when presented with a "reduced" sentence by turning over their partner. What these studies show is people do not often do the logical thing but rather react to a perceived advantage.
What this works out to is that most manufacturers saw no advantage in basic R&D to make real improvements unless forced by outside pressures.

RE: Clueless
By Ringold on 8/31/2012 5:21:08 PM , Rating: 2
That's not the way the math works in this situation. By inaction as a whole, the industry could maintain the status quo, which is okay for mafia bosses with culturally established territories, ranks, etc.

But the first one to move in commerce as the advantage, as in war. This is obvious; if one automaker could make supposedly simple investments and turn the competition to dust, billions of dollars of pure profit stood to be made, along with perhaps a mindshare dominance in the public that could last for an entire generation.

Sig wouldn't offer a logical response because, like liberals and their conspiracy theories, it was a reaction based on an emotional gut reaction distaste for corporations. He could neither prove cartel-like behavior nor logically suggest why a company would shoot itself in the foot for the benefit of their competitors, and so far neither have you.

RE: Clueless
By Lord 666 on 8/30/2012 10:14:47 PM , Rating: 1
"A Government that governs least, governs best."

But Government did mandate 15ppm sulfur diesel and T2B5 for environmental reasons. The engineers adapted their designs and the diesel market is starting to thrive.

Another good example is safety features such as airbags and LATCH. Each year there are fewer mva casualties.

RE: Clueless
By FITCamaro on 8/31/2012 8:18:50 AM , Rating: 2
Government didn't need to mandate things like airbags to get automakers to adopt them. They were desired by consumers once they were safe to use. But what if, and lets go out on a limb here, as a free, independent adult I want to chose to buy a car without airbags because of the lower cost? You, along with government, tell me I shouldn't be able to.

But now we've gone past safety features into mandating convenience features.

RE: Clueless
By Lord 666 on 8/31/2012 11:41:56 AM , Rating: 2
My 06 TDI Jetta has the 4*4 option meaning it has rear side airbags. TPMS was an option back then and along with the package 2 trim level and built-in nav, it meant finding the exact car with the options I wanted in black came down to a selection of two cars in the US. Fast forward six years and the 2012 Passat (not just the TDI) at any trim level is not available with rear side airbags nor is the Jetta. That is a deal breaker for me.

So why would VW take a step backwards and no longer offer that option which was about $600? Its available in the A6, but the TDI A6 is not here yet. Likewise, as an independent adult, I am free to vote with my dollars and buy whatever I want. The MB E350 CDI comes to mind, but its only RWD and not AWD. So in all honesty, do not have any current options. The Jetta was just hit from behind with the two little ones in their car seats. No one got hurt and the car held up well. Thankfully my wife was driving and not me.

However, only by standardization and mandate does everyone at all price brackets benefit from the improved safety gear. If the average joe wants to save some money ($600 amoritized over 60 months works out to be $12 a month), there are better options than skimping on safety gear.

RE: Clueless
By mocyd on 8/30/2012 10:56:44 PM , Rating: 5
I think economy is a great thing. I do not, however, believe it's the role of the Government to be the arbiter of it. Nor is it necessary to do so.

Economy isn't going to get us off of foreign oil, or make an unfriendly, unstable nation that we depend on friendly and stable, leading to low gas prices.

Economy also won't get us off oil quickly in the event oil becomes an untenable resource. At best, the cost of gas will rise to the point where our economy can't function as it did, and it will suffer until economy slowly brings down the price of a new competing energy infrastructure. Economy will disrupt itself without forethought.

Economy isn't forward thinking. Economy doesn't care about catastrophes, national allegiance, or location of resources. It doesn't even care about its own smooth functioning as a whole- it only cares about profits where it can create them. Economy will cheat itself where it can, and even collapse integral, critical portions of itself unknowingly.

RE: Clueless
By Reclaimer77 on 8/31/2012 9:22:53 AM , Rating: 1
I meant fuel economy, clearly. The context I spoke was evident to anyone reading that NOT just looking for an excuse to slam and troll me.

Having said that, I obviously disagree with your Marxist view on economies as a whole. I believe you were inferring to Capitalism, and how it's a big pile of crap.

We're on foreign oil because there is a huge public demand for oil, and the more domestic production we cancel the more foreign oil we must purchase. Apparently this is some huge conspiracy by "greedy" big oil to *gasp* meet the demand of their customers! I know, how evil of them. They should just take the moral stance and close shop forever. You guys would love that.

Economy isn't forward thinking.

Well this is such an ignorant and stupid statement, where to even start. You Liberals truly believe Government is more noble and incorruptible and virtuous, and us dumb hicks just can't do anything ourselves don't you?

Not forward thinking? Did the Government make the computer you typed this on? Did the Government develop the vehicle you drive? The list goes on FOREVER. What the hell? Honestly open your eyes and look at the world.

RE: Clueless
By thirdshop on 8/31/2012 9:50:29 AM , Rating: 2
Having been in the military for 11 years, I have ample reason to not believe that the government is noble or incorruptible. However, that being said, your assertion that an unfettered free market is just, noble, and and makes all advances is also ignorant beyond belief. Historically the US did have a period of capitalism you dream of, it was called the Gilded Age and it occurred in the late 19th century. This is a period of time with rampant child labor, company towns, monopolistic cartels and corruption on the level of nations such as Nigeria and Mexico.
Truth is, both government and business are run by people with all their potential faults and prejudices. The best we can actually hope for is a dynamic tension where both sides can keep each other in check.
Is that really too difficult to see?

RE: Clueless
By Reclaimer77 on 8/31/2012 4:18:46 PM , Rating: 2
Why is it that every time a Conservative has an issue with clear over-regulation, someone accuses him of wanting completely unregulated laze fare Capitalism?

Historically the US did have a period of capitalism you dream of, it was called the Gilded Age and it occurred in the late 19th century. This is a period of time with rampant child labor, company towns, monopolistic cartels and corruption on the level of nations such as Nigeria and Mexico.

Well if we're playing that game, I can bring up several key examples of the ills of unfettered Socialism/Communism. Namely the various collapses of 20'th century Europe. The Soviet Union, China, etc etc.

In fact going by the Left's logic, the Soviet Union should have became the premier world power. What happened there? It sure wasn't "unchecked Capitalism" was it?

And is Cuba, in fact, really the "workers paradise" today? Why do so many South Americans flee to the United States when the "paradise" of Cuba is a stones throw away?

There is such a thing as too much regulation and Federal mandates. I believe we long ago crossed that point, and are just adding nail to proverbial nail to our countries coffin. Is that such a crazy opinion? There sure is ample evidence pointing to that situation.

RE: Clueless
By Ringold on 8/31/2012 5:30:31 PM , Rating: 2
And is Cuba, in fact, really the "workers paradise" today? Why do so many South Americans flee to the United States when the "paradise" of Cuba is a stones throw away?

I don't know if it made national news or not, but a boatload full of people from the workers paradise landed here in Florida a couple weeks back. From what I heard, they'd cobbled together their own boat, complete with an engine pulled from some 1950s or 60s car.

Remember too a couple years ago I95 came to a stop as a huge boatload landed and they were running across the highway.

Considering how many Cuban's die every year in their attempt to cross the Florida Straits, that must be a strange sort of paradise down there. :P

RE: Clueless
By Paj on 9/3/2012 11:02:51 AM , Rating: 2
A lot of Cuba problems come from the USA's unwillingness to trade with it. Closing off a market that size can really tank an economy.

Not saying Cuba is a paragon of virtue, because it surely isnt. Many freedoms are severely restricted, and some of their policies are repressive or just daft.

However, they do have one of the worlds best education systems, boasting a 99.8% literacy rate, and regularly outperform US schools. They also have a fantastic healthcare system, which is free for everyone. In fact Cubans have a higher life expectancy than people in the US.

RE: Clueless
By Ringold on 8/31/2012 5:26:44 PM , Rating: 2
Why is it the only history American Marxists seem to be aware of is the history that suits their agenda?

That same mostly unfettered capitalism existed from the start in 1776, and we went from a collection of farms and hunters and trappers to the worlds leading nation by the point you refer to.

Carter also had your world view, and how did that go?

How'd you manage 11 years in the military and have such disdain for the philosophies so dear to the hearts of the framers of the constitution you were paid to defend? Or was that all it was to you, a paycheck?

RE: Clueless
By 91TTZ on 8/31/2012 12:37:46 PM , Rating: 2
If you look at the historical fuel economy of cars you'll see that when the price of fuel rises, the fuel economy rises also.

I'm not so sure that the government regulations are what caused the rise in fuel economy. When gas last rose dramatically in the 1970's, the auto makers responded to customer demand by making fuel efficient cars. The Honda Civic from the late 70's got better fuel economy than the one from today. Of course technology has progressed so they could probably get better gas mileage if they decided to make the new one that small and light, but my point is that when fuel economy became the #1 selling point the manufacturers rose to the occasion and produced cars that got good gas mileage. Once fuel got cheaper they made the cars larger and heavier and they got poorer fuel economy, but only because that's what customers demanded.

Just for kicks let's take a look at a couple of cars that are about the same size and shape.

(I would have liked to compare the same exact car but manufacturers tend to move all their cars upmarket to make more profit on them. As a result they get larger and larger and no longer reside in the same class.)

RE: Clueless
By Keeir on 8/31/2012 9:49:52 PM , Rating: 2
This was never really answered.

What we are seeing right now is the result of "low hanging fruit"

One of the most low hanging fruit is rewriting your engine's response curve to certain inputs. (Hyundai, Ford, GM, BMW, Honda, I'm look right at you guys)

Another is taking a relatively slow/poor parts like tires, transmission/etc and using them in the place of what the marketplace used to prefer.

A third is making certain parts lightler/less robust.

I'd bet for the new Altima, we are seeing all the low hanging technology. The EPA is predicting an increase in fuel economy of ~18% between the 2013 and the 2012 models. But in practice fuel economy will likely be closer to 10% and then only if you the consumer continue to use the OEM or more efficient tires and take the hit on long term maintainability and usability.

This is not to say the 2013 equilibrium of design is a bad place to be. It might even be superior to the 2012 equilibrium of design. But to pretend like there was a 15% jump in fuel economy for free is hilarious. There is just not an evident upfrount additional cost.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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