“The new fuel economy standards are command, but not control regulations: they pick a target, but the automakers are free to accomplish that goal however they can. And they are always diligent to do that in the least cost manner possible,” CFA Senior Fellow Mark Cooper said in a teleconference Monday with reporters. “We always find that the cost of implementing the standards is less than the regulators thought and much less than the automakers claim because if you do a well-designed performance standard you unleash market forces, innovation, and competition, which drives the cost down.”
CFA officials said vehicle manufacturers are being short-sighted in attempting to water-down the standards, noting their ability to comply so far, the positive impact the standards have had on sales (20 percent greater sales for vehicles with more than 10 percent increase in fuel economy), and the need to develop technology to remain competitive in other parts of the world with high fuel-efficiency standards.
Senate bill 1273, authored by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and co-sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., would make it easier for automakers to comply with CAFE standards and essentially amounts to a rollback, Gillis said.
The Fuel Economy Harmonization Act would bring consistency to the practice of transferring fleetwide credits earned under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and EPA emissions programs. The bill also removes caps on the amount of fuel mileage credits automakers can transfer between car and light-truck fleets, in line with EPA rules.
It also would allow auto companies to earn NHTSA credits for “off-cycle” technologies, such as stop-start, going back to 2012.