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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 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.

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