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Senators Nix Increasing Fuel Efficiency Rules for SUVs and Light Trucks

The Senate Energy Committee, which is currently drafting the Senate’s version of the national Energy bill, on Wednesday voted 7-15 to reject an amendment to increase fuel efficiency standards for light trucks and SUVs.

Under the failed proposal offered by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), SUVs and other light trucks would have to meet the same 27.5 mpg rule for passenger cars by 2011, up from a current 21 mpg for light trucks, an increase of 31%.

In 2002, the Bush administration ordered an increase in the standard for light trucks to 22.2 miles a gallon by 2007—an increase of 6%.

Using fuel consumption rather than mileage as a basis for comparison shows Feinstein’s proposal to be less aggressive than 31% makes it sound.

The baseline mileage of 21 mpg is equivalent to 11.2 liters of fuel consumed per 100 km, or 4.76 gallons/100 miles. The Feinstein proposal of 27.5 mpg is equivalent to  8.55 liters/100km, or 3.63 gallons/100 miles. That works out to a decrease in fuel consumption of 23.6%.

Opponents said imposing a higher fuel standard would place further burdens on US automakers that are already suffering financially, endangering thousands of high-paying jobs. They also said the government should not dictate what vehicles consumers buy.

“I think mothers and fathers can make those decisions themselves,” said Republican George Allen of Virginia. (Reuters)

Feinstein argued that while consumers are queuing to buy hybrids, US companies are saddled with growing inventories of gas-guzzling SUVs.

“They (U.S. automakers) have essentially refused to listen to the marketplace,” she said. “Toyota is going to eat their lunch.”

More fuel efficiency amendments will undoubtedly be proposed when the debate on the energy moves to the full Senate. Assuming a bill is passed in the Senate, it will have to be reconciled with the version that came out of the House.



“I think mothers and fathers can make those decisions themselves” - Sen George Allen (R-VA).

I can't help but think that when the mothers and fathers are Congresspeople, and the decision they're making is to sent their own sons and daughters off to a war to secure more oil, they choose to keep their kids home.

They send other Americans' sons and daughters to war for oil, but won't decide in favor of an oil policy designed to eliminate that need for war in the first place.


The only real question is how long it will take for Toyota to buy GM and turn them into a minor supplier.

Forgive the U.S. sports analogy, but looking at these Senatorial doings and the way Ford and GM have acted reminds me of the debate over which set of major league team owners is dumber, those in baseball or those in hockey. Just when you think you know for sure it's one, the other jumps up and does something so insanely dumb you have to change your mind.

I really, REALLY don't want to see the people who work for Ford or GM get hurt, but unless their management teams wake up, and fast, there will be a lot of economic pain the form of layoffs. It's a pity the morons in the executive suites won't be the first to be fired, and without a fat compensation package.

Ron  Fischer

Ford & GM have tried to optimize profit by overserving the most profitable segments of the vehicle market. Their product mixes will have to change. Until they accomplish that they will lose market share, which requires they become smaller companies.

Joe Adiletta

Anyone every read Clayton Christensen's stuff? If this doesn't just fit right in, I'm not sure what does. Moving your resouces stubbornly upstream to higher margin goods,while degrading the production of others that consumes you from below.

You think it's bad now? Wait until that hybrid camary comes out next year, then we'll really see some blood-letting.


If the choice of vehicle didn't impact others, I'd say eliminate all emissions and fuel economy standards and let people make their own choices.

But every gallon of gasoline that is burned now means my children and grandchildren will have one less available to them, and will have to pay more for it. And they'll have to pay even more for it.

Fuel economy standards aren't about protecting people from themselves. They're about protecting others from the consequences of an individual's choices. If someone wants to drive an SUV, they should be allowed to. But the impact that their purchase has on my safety, national security and environment should be minimized.


It was a bad business decision for GM to base their profits on big SUVs. I hope GM learns a lesson when Toyota pounds them into the ground. Fuel efficient vehicles save consumers money and one of the consumers is the government. In Florida, gas is around $2.30 USD per gallon. If a consumer drives 12000 miles a year with a vehicle averaging 27MPG, the consumer is spending $1022 USD a year and using 444 gallons of gas a year. By using a vehicle that gets 40MPG and the figures are $690 USD a year and 300 gallons a year. The consumer would get back almost have the money. If the government wants to give Americans a tax rebate just raise the fuel efficiency rules. If the government made contracts with GM and Ford to replace their current government use vehicles with fuel efficient ones then may be the higher fuel efficiency rules wouldn't hurt so bad.

Bush is always talking about how the economy would improve if Americans had more money to spend. Fuel efficient vehicles would give Americans more money to spend elsewhere instead of fuel.


I wrote to the Diesel Technology Forum to ask about the proposed diesel tax credit, and got this handwritten response:

"If enacted, the credits would apply to diesel cars & trucks up to 6000 lbs gvwr - and would be based on the % fuel economy improvement over a conventional gasoline engine - range of $500 to $3000. Saving a gallon of fuel in a Hummer is good - so is saving a gallon of fuel in a VW Jetta!"

On the surface they make the assumption that every diesel sale is a 1:1 replacement for a gas vehicle in the same range. In other words, that someone never skips "downsizing" because they can get a subsidized diesel. And no one ever "upsizes" because the larger diesel is subsidizes ... but I don't think they really care.

The disgusting truth is that this is business as usual in congress ... kill the mpg amendment, and find a way, any way to get subsidies out to Detroit!

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