If the federal government decides to weaken fuel economy standards, it will hurt the U.S. automotive industry and result in long-term job loss.
Automakers, government agencies and other stakeholders agreed in 2012 to strong but reasonable national goals for cleaner, more efficient transportation through model year 2025. Since then, suppliers have invested heavily in research, development, equipment and talent to make sure automakers could reach those targets. Pulling a U-turn on fuel economy standards betrays those efforts.
And it won't be good for automakers, either, especially not in the long run. U.S. carmakers have been enjoying years of strong sales and profits, even as they have been making increasingly efficient cars and trucks. That's hardly surprising: Who wouldn't rather drive a vehicle that goes farther on every gallon of gas? And any automaker that wants to succeed globally must offer more efficient, cleaner vehicles.
Today, the American auto industry is creating some of the most advanced, cleanest and fuel-efficient vehicles the world has ever seen. Why in the world would we want to throw all that progress into reverse?
At Calstart, our 185 member companies include fuel providers, vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and investors, all of whom understand the large and growing global opportunity that clean transportation technology represents. In our recent semiannual survey, we asked major automotive suppliers about the existing national fuel economy standards.
According to our confidential survey, four out of five suppliers say the current robust fuel economy standards should be maintained, or even strengthened. They do not want to see miles-per-gallon standards rolled back. Rather, they see strong, consistent fuel economy standards as a boon for company job growth and industry investment.
Suppliers employ more than twice as many people as the automakers themselves and have created more than two-thirds of all auto-related jobs in the U.S. They employ hundreds of thousands of workers in 1,200 U.S. factories and engineering facilities in 48 states, and they are developing and manufacturing advanced technologies that reduce pollution and improve fuel economy for innovative vehicles, from family cars to long-haul trucks.
In our survey, 84 percent of suppliers said the 2025 standards encourage job growth at their companies, and 95 percent say more ambitious fuel economy standards encourage more innovation and investment in the U.S.
Weakening these standards would be a bad deal for the industry as it exists and for its future prospects.
In fact, the vast majority of the suppliers we surveyed are already thinking about the steps beyond the existing standards that the administration is working to roll back. Eighty-seven percent told us it is important to start planning and setting standards now for model years beyond 2025. New technologies have long development lead times, and these companies need regulatory certainty. And notwithstanding any shortsighted moves on the part of the administration, automotive suppliers know that strong standards are in their own best long-term business interests: Eighty-two percent agreed with the statement that "Companies that are leaders in vehicle efficiency technology will be more successful over the next 10-15 years."
Thanks in part to strong fuel economy standards, automakers have enjoyed years of strong and even record-breaking sales. The administration's arguments that the standards are bad for business are simply wrong. Rolling back standards implies that American businesses and workers either cannot or should not try to compete in the increasingly fuel-efficient global automotive market. Our member companies are confident that their engineers and technicians can compete with anyone and be global leaders.
Automotive suppliers see strong national fuel economy standards as drivers of innovation and as important market signals. They are poised to lead the U.S. in dominating the clean automotive revolution that is already underway around the planet. But consistent, strong standards are key to progress.