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Survey: 3 Out of 4 Americans Want Detroit and Washington to Impose 40 MPG Fuel-Efficiency Standard

Support for increasing fuel-efficiency standards. Click to enlarge.

Fully 78% of Americans want Washington to impose a 40 mile per gallon (mpg) fuel-efficiency standard for American vehicles, according to a new Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) national opinion survey released by the nonprofit Civil Society Institute (CSI).

Ninety percent of Americans expect gas prices to rise again “in the near future,” with nearly half (46%) “definitely” expecting a resumption of higher fuel prices.

According to the survey, 70% of Americans say they are factoring “expected future gasoline price increases into consideration in thinking about buying a new vehicle.”Forty-five percent say they are now more likely to buy a “hybrid or other fuel-efficient vehicle” than they were six months ago, compared to 30% who are unchanged in their plans and 24% who are less likely to make such a vehicle purchase.

These findings should be a real wake-up call to any auto executive in Detroit who is hoping against hope that Americans will fall back in love with gas-hog vehicles. What Americans are saying to American carmakers is that they are ready for change. We know the technology exists for higher fuel efficiency that will save money, reduce this nation’s dependence on foreign oil and diminish the pollution linked to global warming. What Detroit needs to realize is that low gas prices have not—and will not—lead to the demise of the now very strong and continuing demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles. If American carmakers make that wrong-headed gamble for a second time, it may just be the last losing bet they can afford to make.

—Pam Solo, Civil Society Institute President and Founder

Other results of the Opinion Research Corporation survey conducted for the Civil Society Institute include the following:

  • 76% think US automakers have been blind to US consumer needs and tastes;
  • 50% think that Japan is ahead of the US in hybrid or other fuel-efficient technologies, 36% think the countries are roughly equal and 6% think the US is ahead.
  • 85% support White House pressure on automakers for reducing “energy consumption and related global-warming pollution”;
  • 66% support Federal incentives for automakers in return for increasing investments in fuel-efficient technologies;
  • 90% want automakers to start selling more fuel-efficient vehicles that they make or sell overseas but do not offer in the US; and
  • 74% support federal gasoline taxes devoted to renewable energy R&D.

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted among a sample of 1,016 adults (509 men and 507 women) age 18 and over, living in private households, in the continental United States. Interviewing by ORC was completed during the period of November 9-12, 2006. Completed interviews of the 1,016 adults were weighted by four variables: age, sex, geographic region, and race, to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total adult population. The margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the sample of 1,016 adults. Smaller sub-groups will have larger error margins.

CSI has conducted more than a dozen major surveys since 2003 on energy issues, including vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, global warming and renewables. CSI is the parent organization of and the Hybrid Owners of America.




It would sure be nice if everyone drove more fuel efficient cars.


This post appears to win the longevity record. No shortage of discussion fuel anyway.

One simple point: If we were driving vehicles propelled 100% by electrics - we would have far less concern for:

1) MPG
2) GHG
3) Geopolitics of petrol
4) vehicle size/weight

Of course the big oil boys want us to think EV, PEV, PHEV is still "down the road." In fact they're with us right now.

And Robert, most people know you cannot carburete water, you have to e-vaporate it first.


Yes increased demand by China and India are certainly a factor among dozens, but this "Global War on Terror" chicken little BS farce is the big one.


Yeah I am big oil and I do want you to think that.
I also invest in alternatives energy and think electric is great. Other than the Telsa $100,000 car the average joe cant afford what's being offered for sale?


Not much on the market yet that's able to replace your main family car, but if some of the other options are used then the industry will get a chance to grow. It's partly up to the consumer.

What's being offered for sale?
Conversions: do it yourself or hire someone.
NEV's: for getting arround to do errands (good as a second vehicle)
Electric Motorcycles,Scooters and bikes. - short/medium length commutes and errands

If we don't buy them, they won't build them and survive long enough the build cars.


gr, yes electrics CAN eliminate those concerns - but a significant problem is that most electricity in the US and China (two of the most energy hungry and growing economies) comes from coal, perhaps the worst possible fuel from a GHG perspective. A fleet of electrics that are indirectly powered by coal just moves the pollution to a less visible source, and may on the whole increase the overall pollution due to the inefficiency of generating and distributing the electricity and then charging the car batteries (or other storage medium). Biofuels are very interesting because they bypass the need for solar-electric generation (to avoid GHG creation at that end) and may, on the whole, be less harmful from a GHG perspective.


Even when the power is generated by coal an EV is still cleaner than gasoline cars. Biofuels may be much better than their fossil equivalents but you are still creating the pollution where people live and breath.


It's good to know that there's broad-based support for higher fuel economy standards.


Fuel efficiency standards are an example of real bad economics. Our public policy should be a heavy tax on low mileage cars and a tax rebate on high mileage cars. Tax bad stuff and reward good stuff - it ain't that complicated. This tax should be imposed every year with the car is re-registered through the state DMV. The tax schedule should be adjusted every year over a period of a decade or so until we achieve mileage averages of over 80 MPG. This is easily attainable right now with Full Plug-In BioDiesel Hybrids. See the success of the U.S. DOE funded PNGV program from the late 90s.

marcus fielding

Low mileage cars and biofuels .... is this not the answer?


I find the majority of this discussion elitist in nature.
References to the diminished mental abilities of anyone not participating is particularly offensive. Try to broaden your focus and understanding of the general population. I do however, have some questions.
1. Where does this rebate/tax money come from? - My pocket or yours.
2. Who will subsidize my dear old granny, living on social security in a small town without public transportation? - Or doesn't she count by virtue of being retired and poor?
3. How do you like the increased costs hidden in much of the food you purchased today? Costs created by the diversion of corn to ethanol plants.

One final thought. This is a complex problem. Most of the posts attempt to quantify it as a simple "one answer fixes all" problem. Do a complete analysis.

As usual our representatives have taken the make everbody feel good approach. And the president signed it!! There is teamwork.

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