Have you read about the government program under which law-abiding citizens are pulled out of their SUVs, loaded into the backs of trucks and then herded into fenced lots where they are forced to buy short-range battery-electric cars, while jackbooted greenshirts look on with guns drawn?
Yeah, neither have we.
We're pretty sure you can still go buy a gasoline-powered Lincoln Navigator, Toyota Sequoia or Chevy Tahoe XL with no fear of the sheriff. Or you can buy an electric car running on battery power or hydrogen fuel, or a hybrid crossover. Or choose a diesel-fueled Ram 1500 pickup or Chevy Cruze compact.
Thanks in part to the regulations — and automakers' ingenuity — consumers have ever more choices of vehicles and powertrains, including turbo-4s and V-6s that do the work of V-8s, nine- and 10-speed transmissions, hybrids galore, plus a smattering of long-range electric cars that can be recharged at home.
Moreover, they're not forced into an unfortunate choice between conserving fuel and carrying a large family or cargo load, because even capacious vehicles today are far more efficient — and still enormous.
That's what progress looks like and, for better or worse, the Obama-era fuel economy regulations facilitated it by providing a uniform set of standards and challenging the industry to live up to them.
The Trump administration's proposed retreat from those standards doesn't have to mean the end of that progress. Fuel efficiency may not be a powerful marketing hook (except everywhere else in the world), but fuel consumption isn't a sacred duty, either. Automakers owe no debt to Big Oil. Their obligation is to the consumer, who benefits from the cleaner air, long-term cost savings and, yes, expanded choice brought about by the development of fuel-efficient vehicles.
Neither should the industry be deterred by the administration's specious safety arguments.
The auto industry knows that the way forward isn't to go backward or stand still. Even if the Trump administration won't be part of it, there's ample opportunity for a sensible compromise between the industry and clean-air advocates that preserves the industry's good name and sustains the current pace of progress.