Consumer Federation analysis of polling data and tech pricing finds consumer demands aligned with proposed MY 2017-2025 CAFE and GHG regulations for light-duty vehicles
A new analysis from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) of consumer polling data finds that the proposed MY 2017-2025 passenger vehicle fuel economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards to be finalized this summer (earlier post) align with consumer demands and needs.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed CAFE standards are projected to require, on an average industry fleet-wide basis for cars and trucks combined, 40.1 mpg US (5.87 L/100km) in model year 2021, and 49.6 mpg (4.74 L/100km) in model year 2025. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed GHG standards, which are harmonized with NHTSA’s CAFE standards, are projected to require 163 grams/mile of CO2) in model year 2025.
The 163 g/mile limit would be equivalent to 54.5 mpg (4.3 L/100km), if the vehicles were to meet this CO2 only through fuel economy improvements. The agencies expect, however, that a portion of these improvements will be made through reductions in air conditioning leakage, which would not contribute to fuel economy.
The CFA report examines historical and current day mileage and pricing data as well as new polling data to determine what consumers want and need, whether or not the auto industry can deliver on those needs, and whether or not fuel economy improvements will be cost prohibitive.
Poll Results. The CFA polling data finds continued strong consumer support for the proposed standards, which CFA rounded up to 55 mpg in its question (“The federal government has proposed requiring automobile manufacturers to increase the fuel economy of their motor vehicle fleets to an average of 55 miles per gallon by 2025.”). Top findings of the telephone poll of 1,000 adults, conducted in May 2012 with a plus or minus three-point margin of error, include:
88% of those surveyed said the US should reduce oil consumption. CFA found that the belief that the US should cut back on oil consumption is associated with the desire for higher fuel economy. Respondents who said cutting oil consumption is very important want to get five more miles per gallon with their next vehicle purchase.
74% of those polled said the new fuel economy standards are a good idea.
66% said they would still support the standard, even if it creates higher sticker prices for vehicles.
84% said it is important for the nation to reduce its oil consumption.
86% said cutting consumer costs is an important reason to cut oil consumption.
Respondents reported that for their next car purchase, they intend to buy a vehicle that gets about seven miles-per-gallon more than their current vehicle. Additionally, based on the polling, CFA notes that having a more fuel-efficient vehicle tends to reinforce consumer preference for higher fuel economy in the future.
Costs vs. consumer benefits of fuel economy technology. CFA’s new analysis of the costs versus consumer benefits of fuel economy technology found that choosing more fuel-efficient cars consistently pays off for consumers. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics data on car prices, CFA examined how much improvements in fuel economy technology in a number of different vehicles of different sizes and classes have historically cost car buyers. CFA then compared this cost data to the savings consumers have enjoyed on gasoline costs due to increased fuel economy.
In every case, for a variety of models, the savings from spending less on gas far outweighed the additional cost of buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle. The results demonstrate that fuel economy is an investment that pays off many times over for consumers.—Jack Gillis, Director of Public Affairs for CFA and author of The Car Book
The analysis found that a Chevy Malibu’s improvements in fuel economy over the past decade have increased the sticker price $348 compared to the 2002 price. The typical owner who keeps the car for six years will save $2,885 in fuel costs. This translates into gasoline savings more than eight times the cost of new fuel economy technology.
Similarly, a Ford F-150 pickup costs $950 more than it did in 2002 due to fuel economy improvements. The analysis found that the owner would save $5,369 in fuel costs, coming out $4,419 ahead.
CFA also analyzed the cost versus benefit of today’s consumer choosing a more fuel-efficient car or truck. CFA compared pairs of similar current models in which one of the models was priced higher due to its advanced fuel efficiency technology. For example:
A Chevrolet Cruze costs $225 more than a Volkswagen Jetta, but gets 4 more miles per gallon. The annual fuel cost savings for the Cruze driver would be $234 annually, with a break-even point at 0.96 years.
A Scion iQ costs $55 more than a Mazda 2, but gets 5 more miles per gallon. The annual fuel cost savings for the Scion driver would be $235, with a break-even point at 0.23 years.
A Honda Civic costs $110 more than a Mitsubishi Lancer, but gets 4.5 more miles per gallon. The annual fuel costs savings for the Civic driver would be $243, with a break-even point at a little under three months.
CFA notes that automakers are already responding with more fuel-efficient cars. CFA finds that the number of passenger cars and trucks getting more than 30 mpg has more than quadrupled in the past 5 years, increasing from 12 models to 52.
CFA report: A Key Step To Ending America’s Oil Addiction: Policymakers, Consumers And Automakers Are Shifting New Vehicles To Higher Fuel Economy