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Senators Introduce Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act: 35MPG CAFE by 2017

20 June 2006

Four US Senators—Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)—introduced the “Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act” to raise the average fuel economy standards for all light-duty vehicles—including trucks and SUVs—from 25 miles per gallon (mpg) to 35 mpg by model year 2017.

The current targeted average fleet economy for new passenger cars is 27.5 mpg—the same level set as a target for 1985 by Congress in 1975. In March, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced an increase in the light truck CAFE standards to an estimated 24.0 mpg by 2011. (Earlier post.)

The Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act would require the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration to increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for all vehicles to 35 miles per gallon by Model Year 2017. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency would be required to update its testing to reflect actual fuel economy.

Congress can no longer ignore the real solution to ending our dependence on foreign oil and reversing the growing and harmful effects of global warming. The road to energy security, a healthier environment and consumer relief begins with increasing the fuel economy for all cars and trucks.

Americans today are spending more than 45 percent more for gasoline than they were in 2003. If the US. had increased the fuel economy of all cars sold in America ten years ago by only five miles per gallon, we would be using more than one million fewer barrels of oil per day—saving $33 billion annually in the US economy and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

—Senator Durbin

In 1975, when American cars were averaging 14 miles a gallon, Congress passed the CAFE law, which required manufacturers to double the fuel economy of their vehicles to nearly 28 miles a gallon in 10 years.

Durbin, who has proposed new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks on three occasions in the past four years, noted that many of the same arguments against new fuel efficiency standards—more expensive cars, impossible technical hurdles, loss of car-making jobs—were also raised back in 1975.

June 20, 2006 in Fuel Efficiency, Policy | Permalink | Comments (42) | TrackBack (0)

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Wow...sounds good in theory until you look at how great that has worked so far. Gas tax! Gas tax! Gas tax! If the consumer sees it at the pump every time they fill up they are more likely to WANT to buy a more fuel efficient car. If the gas prices are kept low they will continue to buy the car which pleases them most (power, large size, perceived safety, etc). Heck just updating the EPA testing methodology alone would be great (funny thing is I have always BEATEN every EPA estimate for manual transmission vehicles I have ever owned. I usually match or sometimes exceed in auto tranny vehicles).

A potential problem, even with the low CAFE standards that we have now, is that people's response to mandated better gas mileage has been an increase in vehicle miles driven. Raising CAFE standards without a concomitant increase in gas prices will tend to encourage greater miles driven to keep the total outlay the same.

At least the above is a theory I read recently which seems to make some sense. Of course it didn't help to give special lax standards to SUV and trucks, causing the auto companies to emphasize those types of vehicles.

I agree that just raising the standards is a flawed way of addressing the problem. Ration gasoline or raise the taxes or both and consumers will gravitate towards high MPG vehicles in order to survive economically.

The sad reality, however, is that these Senators are on the leading edge of doing something about oil consumption and global warming. In the U.S. Senate, this is as good as it gets and these Senators are part of the radical fringe. This will not pass, nor will anything else that has a meaningful impact on our consumption.

We'll just have to wait until the oil supply takes a nose dive and/or China adds about 50 million more vehicles whichever comes first.

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Thanks
Ann-Marie Fleming

Oh Wow!! 35MPG by 2017. Is Detroit up to the task [/sarcasm]

No the problem is the responce often is buying used cars. I already know a fair number of people who no longerbuy any new cars and only buy used/restored cars.

Raising mpg does not make people drive more. The only 'more driving higher mpg' that I know goes on when a two car family drives the higher mpg car IN PREFERENCE to the lower mpg car.

Someone who was already going to make a longer commute might switch to a car like the Prius but I dont know of anyhone who DECIDED to take a longer commute because of the Prius.

People are making longer commutes partly because that's where all the affordable housing is. Ten years ago the city of Temecula, about halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles, was tiny. But driving past there the past few years have seen an explosion of new houses.

I think that the 35 mpg is a feasible objective. Some countries have already done and surpassed that benchmark without advanced technologies.

If the US would apply a combination of these options:
-Engine downsizing;
-Common rail turbo diesel;
-Turbo technology applied to gasoline engines;
-Hybridization (gas and diesel).
Fuel consumption would go down dramatically without much penalty to performance or satisfaction.

For example, a 535d BMW achieve 35mpg and can offer 272Hp and 560Nm of torque, the Volkswagen 1.4Litre TSI engine offers 170Hp and 280Nm and similar mileage.

[quote]Raising mpg does not make people drive more.[/quote]

Sure it does. It doesn't, however, result in a net fuel consumption of zero like an above poster suggested. This is Econ 101.

There is a marginal cost to driving the car an additional mile. This includes the cost of the gasoline necessary, as well as the tiny fraction of an oil change, new tires, tune up, etc. There's also a marginal benefit to driving the car an additional mile -- you can go do "one more thing".

Here's the caveat: the marginal benefit of driving 200 miles a week is less than half the marginal benefit of driving 100 miles per week. Why? Well, people prioritize, and will do the most important things first. So, driving to/from work and to/from the grocery store have a higher priority than afternoon drives through the countryside. The marginal benefit is higher.

So, if you cut the marginal cost in half, people may take a few more drives through the countryside, but they're consuming less fuel on those drives, as well as every single drive to/from work and to/from the groccer.


The net result:
* More total miles driven
* Fewer gallons of gasoline consumed

This is why increasing CAFE standards is so palatable to taxpayers and their elected officials -- people get more for less, and it's better for the environment/forign poliy/domestic policy.


"Oh Wow!! 35MPG by 2017. Is Detroit up to the task [/sarcasm]"

I LOL'ed. :D

Back in 1979, Datsun made the 210 that would get 35mpg. At the time, US cars were getting around 19mpg. If the US automakers would have started in 1979 adding 1mpg/year to their cars, today the average car would be getting close to 50mpg.

Fuel efficiency should be standard like air bags.

I guess that's the way US auto makers woo the customers. They pay relatively more attention to vehicles' horse power. It is usually achieved at the expense of fuel economy.

Maybe someone with a little more knowledge can answer this for me: Is 35mpg the best we can do?

Maybe someone with a little more knowledge can answer this for me: Is 35mpg the best we can do?

It depends on what you mean. With infinate resources and a dictator, we could (be forced to) do much better. With no regulation in a libertarian society, we'd do much worse.


The idea is to push "just hard enough" -- get improved results without destroying the competitiveness of US companies or driving up the cost of new cars so high that they're no longer affordable to the less affluent. Legislation too extreme would simply be torn up as soon as Congresscritters discovered their chances of reelection hinged on it.

Is it the best we can do? Hard to say. But, in light of the miserable track record Congress and CAFE have had in the past, an increase of 10 MPG without the truck/SUV loophole is a huge advancement from the status quo -- and that's big progress I'm certainly willing to embrace.

Good question, I think we can do much better...

However, instead of the government "mandating" higher milage, I think the demand has to come from the consumers. As American consumers we have a stronger voice then the government, and we have to demand that our Auto companies produce better MPG cars and trucks!

There are many revolutions occuring in the energy frontier, and it is only a matter of time before Toyota or Honda, etc. figures out how to make a decent size car get 100+ mpg...

Unfortunately American consumers are still living in the booming times and just starting to come around to a different way of thinking (sales trends). sites like this are helping educate and spread ideas... why cant we have 50mpg standard? why cant we have clean energy? why cant we have energy that is not dependent on the middle east?

It depends on the car realy. A car made for an older person can ONLY be so small and so low to the ground. Mind you we have an oldsmobile that gets 32 miles per gallon yet its massive. Thats because it doesnt have a particularly powerful engine and because it has a very agressive fuel saving overdrive gear. But its horrid for todays stop and go crap roads. It only workes for us because we still dont get too much traffic around here.

So, are they going to get rid of the E85 loophole at the same time?

Because if not, the Chevy Tahoe SUV is only a hair's breadth away from passing:

Calculating backward from our test Tahoe's window-sticker figures (which are lower than but derived from the unpublished CAFE numbers), we figure the E85 Tahoe's CAFE rating jumped from 20.1 mpg to 33.3 mpg, blowing through the 22.2 mpg mandate and raising GM's average. What's that worth? Well, spread over the roughly 4.5 million vehicles sold in 2005, the maximum 0.9 mpgh benefit allowed by the E85 loophole could have saved GM more than $200 million in fines. That's not chump change, even for the auto giant.

That's the closing paragraph from a box called "Flex Fuel's Big Pay-off" on page 120 of "Car and Driver's" July 2006 issue.

We need to hold congress accountable. What they've done so far is just sick.

This is the Green Car Congress right?
1)No matter what milage they get, can some one explain to me why ALL the gasoline cars being made are not PZEV (SULEV plus ) or the current EPA bin equivilent. bin Laden?
I am talking about pollution per unit miles driven.
2)Why isn't it a requirement to have the Volvo PremAIr catalyst on the radiator?
These are off the shelf "real world" items that work with the current system. No Manhatten project or dictatorship of the masses required.
This is the real indicator the companies do not care and congress has no courage.
Right now with high fuel we are concentrating on milage, but we could lower car pollution significantly if these two items were implimented while waiting for the silver bullets.
For the record, mine is the Serial Plug in highly turboed hybrid running on ethanol, hydrogen or other sustainable fuel.

Congress's hybrid credit law has already kicked in so that Prius's credits will start disappearing soon. This provision was written by the American auto companies. Nice. When Prius's credit disappears, buyers of GM gas guzzler hybrid big trucks will be getting a credit for under 20 mpgs while Prius will buyers will be getting no credit.

At best, Congress gives lip service to conservation, but where the rubber hits the road, or where the campaign contributions hit the pocket, it folds in any attempt to enact real conservation laws.

I am a Democrat, but freely note that Hillary Clinton is not one of the sponsors of the bill, nor will she be.. She is deep in the pockets of GM.

Friedman is right. We need a geo-- green party.

It's too bad we can't throw them all out now and start over.

MPG does not mean anything untill you have a requirement of what you have to be able to do at said mpg.

You can get 35 mpg, make the engine smaller, the vehicle lighter, reduce rolling resistance, reduce drag, reduce the power etc.

That is all fine and good but if the better mpg comes at the cost of performance then ... you haven't really gained anything. If you call it a truck and it gets 35 mpg thats good and all but if it can't do the work that people use a truck for now ... its not really a truck now is it?

The pt cruiser is sold as a light truck ... it is based on the neon chassis.

The honda ridgeline is sold as a full size truck but it has no more towing capacity than my 19 yr old vehicle (and gets no better gas mileage)

There is only so much you can do,
the efficency of the engine is limited by the laws of thermodynamics.
Gasoline has a limited amount of energy per gallon.
You can calculate how much power it takes to move a given mass up a given distance.
There is a lower bound on how much enery it takes to do a given amount of work.

A car from the 70's has more utility than some suv's of today. My parents towed a small camper with our car back in the 80's but today a so called suv rav 4 or crv would not be able to do the same thing.

It is kinda silly
the people that need x capacity will continu driving a vehicle with x capacity. The people that don't will drive whatever. Now there will just be more so called "light trucks" that can not do anything useful and have no more capacity than the cars they are based on but get worse mpg than said cars. How is that a good thing?

1975 people driving vehicles that get 14 mpg
2006 people still driving vehicles that get 14 mpg

Auto manufactures will sell us whatever 1)we will buy, 2) they can make a profit on.

http://www.epa.gov/otaq/cert/mpg/fetrends/420s05001.htm

MPG has been rather flat lately and is down from where it was in the late 80's ... yet people are still buying new cars.

Why are they calling it Ten-in-Ten? It would be 7.5
CAFE in 11.5 years :)

Lying politicians! :)

er, in 10.5 years, but I guess they could delay it's start and it'd be 10 years... but still 27.5 -> 35 is not 10

It's still the right thing to do. You can badmouth CAFE all you want, but other than the loopholes (average speeds on the EPA test are well below current road speeds, E85 loophole) it worked. When they created/raised CAFE, fuel economy got dramatically better over a short period of time. They haven't raised it since then and no surprise, fuel economy has been flat for 20 years. Raising CAFE is the way to increase fuel economy, that is proven by the fact when it was raised, FE went up, when it was left alone, FE stayed the same.

A FAST WAY TO GET STARTED WOULD BE TO FREEZE POWER INCREASES (except for maybe a few specialize models-> corvete, police Impala), AND introduce a) auto AND manual stop light instant engine shutdown and restart b) cut fuel to air ratio at highway cruise (often used on commutes), we need 30-90 hp (traffic& hills, more) at highway cruise not 300-400, but provide the capability to instantly move up to higher power/torque levels when needed. Savings could be in the 5-70% range. Add policy changes in gasoline taxes to full fund the highway system, and add toll HOV lanes+high density automated parking garages (with built in redundacies) to promote mass transit/car pooling. If housing prices are a problem, creative zoning changes in cities and close in burbs to increase living spaces without sacrificing the environment/quality of life/nature of the community.

RJ: speaking of the Honda Ridgeline, you made me go look it up, and compare it to what seems to me to be the nearest Chevy, the Avalanche.

Ridgeline: 16/21 mpg, towing capacity 5000 lbs.
Avalanche: 15/21 mpg (gasoline), towing capacity (2x4) 7200 or 8200 - depending on the axle ratio.

Honda? What do you have to say?

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