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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.



Harvey D.

It seems that drivers of F-250, Hummers (and similar monsters) have above average (relative) drunken driver occurrences than Civic (and similar cars) drivers.

Is it because they are more He-Man types? heavier drinkers, more domineering? warmongers, less educated? have more of an acquired attitude problem?

Has anybody done (or heard of) an in depth study on those drivers?

Who represents the most danger to the general public?

Many insurance companies are charging much more to fully insure those monsters. There must be a good reason. They have to pay when they drive over (demolish), hurt and kill others.


This is a really interesting discussion. I've been following GCC for a few months now, and haven't posted anything, but this topic seems a bit closer to the heart of the matter, so let's go.

Regarding the survey: I think it's great that 78% of Americans want more efficient vehicles and want a 40mpg requirement for fuel economy. I don't see why anyone would dispute that as being true. At the same time, it is likely that people don't understand what it will take to make that happen. This should not in any way diminish the desire of people to have that standard for fuel economy. While its great to talk about what people should do as far as buying smaller cars, and getting away from large gas guzzlers, etc, let's look at the facts of what people are doing. They want large cars, for comfort, carrying capacity, whatever reason, they want them. Let's work with this. If we know that the majority of large SUV's get between 10 and 20mpg, and yes, this may be optimistic, but work with me, then doesn't it stand to reason that even doubling this is going to be a significant benefit? If SUVs get twice the fuel economy, they will use half the fuel. If we have a large majority of SUVs in the country, then as those start to turn over in stock to more efficient ones, they will lower the amount of fuel used. Yes, this will take time, but we know that, so lets get started.
Now, there are all sorts of arguments on here about what it will take to get the fuel economy of a large SUV to increase. Let's look at these. For full disclosure, I'm no engineer or scientist, just curious and concerned. I also drive an SUV, with a V-8 engine, with a really cool fuel economy monitor on it that I watch all the time. The reason I got this SUV is personal, it won't help the cause and it's beside the point. The reason I got the V-8, does matter. The V-6 is standard on the 2006 Trailblazer, with a V-8 as an option, with Displacement on Demand. That's the key, the ability to shut off 4 cylinders when I don't need them, giving me the same average fuel economy as the V-6. I would never have gotten the V-8 without this option, for the simple reason of fuel economy, it wasn't worth it to me to have the additional power, but suck gas like a baby does milk. But hey, if I can get the best of both worlds, then awesome. If by having Displacement on Demand (DOD), then I can get 15-18mpg, instead of 11-14, that's great. This should be standard on all V-8 engines out there. For that matter, why can't larger engines be more efficient than they are now? If it has been possible to increase the efficiency of your standard midsize car, without shrinking the size of the car, or the engine, why is that technology not being applied to the larger engines? Is it because it can't be done? I don't think so, as the difference between a 4 or an 8 cylinder engine is simply the number of cylinders. Yes, there are timing and control differences, but the function is the same, combustion is the same, power transfer is the same process, just scaled up. Yes, it is more complicated to increase the efficiencies of how they work together, but it's not impossible. It's a matter of money. There is no incentive for the big 3 to change how they research autos. If they can give lip service to increasing efficiency by spending less R&D money to make smaller cars more effient, they will. This is regardless of the fact that they make their money selling large vehicles, and that's what they sell more of. It costs more to make them more efficient, so why would they do that? People on GCC say that there are cars out there that are this efficient, but people don't want to buy them, and this might be correct. If people have an SUV now, to carry their kids around, go to soccer games, whatever, and need a new car, will they be able to do the same thing with a smaller car, that gets better mileage, but won't haul their crap? Probably could, but won't. Give people what they are asking for, and people will buy it. People do want 40mpg cars, but they want them in a form that they are interested in buying. I'll be the first one to say that the minute an SUV comes out that has the same performance characteristics as my current SUV, but gets significantly better gas mileage, I'll sell mine and purchase that one. As to those who say that 40MPG is too high, or out of reach for large SUVs, I say why limit ourselves. If we look at all the technological achievements we have made in this world, from electronics to mechanics to physics, doesn't it seem a little odd that increasing the efficiency of a 6000lb vehicle versus that of a 3000lb vehicle is so impossibly difficult? Besides, if we shoot for 40mpg, or 50mpg, and only come up with 30 or 35mpg for large SUVs, is that so bad? That's still more than double what the average is now, so that means over time, a gradual halving of the oil used. Yes?
Ok, I am sure that I will get slammed for a lot of things I've said, and the way I live my life, and likely a lot of things, that's fine, bring it on. I just want to hopefully bring up topics to start a convesation about what people want, and why won't the auto companies see that and give it to us? People to a large degree, aren't going to change what they do now, in a dramatic fashion. However, at the same time, if given the option for something similar to what they have now, but more efficient, people won't turn it down, and will embrace it. This is not a short term fix, but until the Big 3 and the foreign auto companies, start to give the large percentage of people who do drive large vehicles, and are not willing to give them up, the option of increased efficiency, then there will be no long term fix either. I'll admit that I don't know how to force auto companies to do this, but I imagine it has to start at the cash register. Everything follows the money trail, and it starts with each of us, and our purchasing power. If we go with the companies that are starting to provide efficient larger vehicles, which at this point seems to be Toyota, Honda, etc, then the others will be forced to adapt, or go extinct, and yes, that would be a reference to the dinsoaurs of the Big 3, which I support, but only until something better comes along.
Alright, bring it on, food for thought, I only ask that you respect my opinion as much as I respect yours.


Is the answer more engine options? More diesels. More turbochargers. More hybrids? And yes more rationally sized large vehicles ie less body-on-frame.


I do think that a significant portion, but certainly not all, of the large truck buyers are macho types who are predisposed to bad driving. Not all, though (except for Hummer owners where I think it is 100%), and in many cases someone may be a macho type AND truly need the truck for work. From a safety perspective, I think we need to:
1) Limit vehicles over a certain weight, maybe 3500lbs or so, only to people with spotless driving records. For very heavy vehicles over 5500lbs, maybe require several years experience and a somewhat more stringent driver's license. [Incidentally, the drunk who killed my wife's parents had crashed and totaled a different F250 on the same stretch of road two years earlier - talk about outrageous.]
2) Work heavily on vehicle compatibility. Honda and the Europeans seem to be doing this on cars, but I also think trucks/SUVs should be required to have low bumper heights and more "crash compatible" engineering. There is a limit to how much improvement you can make on the smaller cars. In many car/truck accidents the truck literally drives over the car. This can easily be prevented. High bumpers are kept mostly for appearance and offroad ability; but while I think many people have legitimate uses for trucks (hauling trailers or large cargo in the bed), I see hardly any who really use them offroad.

From an efficiency standpoint, I think we need to look not just at vehicle size/weight but also relative power levels. The US seems to think that all vehicles have to accelerate fast and cruise effortlessly at 80+ mph (not legal anywhere but Montana, and frowned on there). There are a lot of vehicles in production that could accomplish all their real-world goals with 2/3 or less of the engine HP that they have now, and in most cases they would get significantly better mileage if they did have smaller engines.


If gas taxes are regressive, then why not an excise tax. If the state of California levied $5000 tax on the purchase of a new SUV and charged $1500 per year to register them, fewer of them would be sold without hurting poor people.


A 3,500 lb curb weight limit would cut out D segment cars. For that matter minivans, and large wagons fall under the same catagory. Even some upper C segment cars would be caught, like the Nissan Maxima at 3,591lbs curb, would be restricted. A Chevy Impala is 3,555 lbs curb (classified D class due to cargo and passenger volume+seating for 6) would also be cut out.



To reinforce some of your thoughts: look at the link pizmo provided. It is interesting to see that most sedans have a tendency to have higher multi-vehicle fatalities than single vehicle but large trucks have a tendency to have higher single vehicle fatalities than multi-vehicle. The Civic you used to have was statistically safer than the F-250 and the Saturn SL is the worst of the three.


kent said "46% of the public also believes that the US president has the power to set crude oil prices"

you responded, "The president has no power to influence oil prices?" once again: influencing the price of oil and setting the price of oil are VASTLY different. No one sets the price of oil...many people, environmental, and political factors influence the price of oil (to varying degrees).

Please provide the data or evidence indicating where the president SETS the price of oil. The original assertion was NOT that the president influences the price of oil.


Gas tax increases have happened in the UK and in my opinion don't make much difference to the size of vehicles that people buy.

Gasoline in the UK currently costs 86 pence per litre which equates to $6.20 per US gallon. Diesel is higher at 92 pence per litre which equates to $6.64 per US gallon. Yet people are still prepared to buy large cars, even SUVs. I myself drive a VW Passat 1.8T which gets 28 USmpg, yet I'm still prepared to pay $90 to fill the tank. However diesels are much more effecient. My partner drives a 1997 Audi A6 2.5TDi and it can get as much as 45 USmpg on good runs. But still compared to US gas prices remains to be expensive to run in the UK.

In the UK prices just make driving a more expensive necessity. Public transport is only an alternative for the privelidged few who are lucky to live close to mass transit that serves a convenient link to work. Even for the most efficient cars high gas prices still make them expensive to run.

Prices in the US may feel like they are eye wateringly high in the US but are less than half price compared to the UK and is considered to be cheap.


Allen: my 3500lbs number was arbitrary. In the very unlikely event that this idea got political support, perhaps there could be some scientific basis for determining what the cutoff would be, or even setting a varying cutoff based on some other factors (bumper height, softness of crush zones, etc.). Unfortunately I expect this is only an academic exercise.

Patrick: I'll have to take a look. My point is mainly that while good engineering is crucial, it cannot overcome an enormous weight difference between vehicles. We need to make sure that the heavy vehicles are being driven safely, and given the huge number of heavy vehicles on the road I think there is a limit below which a vehicle becomes near suicidal. One reason you'll never see me riding in a "Smart" car in the US. (Though I might ride in one if I were in a country with a different vehicle mix.)

Also, I think that intelligent rational people (a minority of the population, but probably most of the people reading this forum) can make decisions on what their personal risks are. SUVs have significant rollover risk, which is more important if driven fast and carelessly; they also don't brake as well as cars, also important to the same crowd. I know I drive carefully and fairly slowly, so that wasn't a big concern. On the other hand, a more massive vehicle protects more against a crash from another vehicle of any size, so if your main concern is other drivers then it may make sense despite the dynamic drawbacks. If I were picking a safe vehicle for a teenager it would be different from the choice for me or another older, more sedate driver. Unfortunately I'm sure far more people consider the other driver to be the problem than the number of people who are correct in that belief.


Scott wrote: Gas tax increases have happened in the UK and in my opinion don't make much difference to the size of vehicles that people buy.

Scott, if you compare the vehicle mix in the US with the vehicle mix in the UK, you will see that you are enormously mistaken. Here in the US, when the price of gasoline spiked to a bit more than $3/gal for a few months, there was a large decline in SUV and large truck purchases. When prices of fuel plummeted just in time for elections, people quickly started buying big again.


Regarding vehicle safety, it is not entirely mass related. A larger vehicle has a bigger crush zone, giving more time to decelerate the occupants in a crash. A larger vehicle does not have to be heavier, however. A 200+ mph NASCAR car probably weighs less than most cars on the road, but they survive some pretty nasty hits. I note that the vast majority of giant SUVs that I see on the road have only one occupant. SUVs are primarily marketed to insecure people who want to feel more "powerful".


When I look around, the average SUV driver in my area seems to be a woman in her early 30s to late 40s. Not exactly testosterone oozing, thrill seeking, "macho" men. Full size trucks on the other hand...I rarely ever see a woman piloting one of those.

Harvey D.

My vehicle is larger, higher, heavier, more powerful and faster than yours and I can crush most cars without getting hurt.

It is the commercial hybrid version of the new 8-wheel drive, V-12, 10-ton general purpose army vehicle.

Hummers and F-250 move aside.

This is not a video game. It is some kind of desease that almost 50% of the American male population has caught. It seems very difficult to cure.

My last monster was a 1977 Chrysler 440, V-8. It went 10 to 11 mpg but it would do 125 mph and float over the road like a slow board. It would take almost 1/4 mile to stop it. The engine blew up at about 50 000 miles. I switched to Toyota Crown, Nissan Maxima and Toyota Camry and never had engine problems since. The next one is going to be a Camry Hybrid or a Prius.

I've never missed the monster boat on wheels.

Most Hummer, SUV and F-250 owners don't realy need such large and heavy vehicles. A Camry 4-cyl hybrid is more than enough to go to work, go shopping, drive the kids to school and the ball game etc.

Those of us who still need the feeling of driving large vehicles could become bus or heavy truck drivers or weekend soldiers.


Please provide the data or evidence indicating where the president SETS the price of oil.

Why would I do that? I didn't, nor would I make, such an absurd claim.

The original assertion was NOT that the president influences the price of oil.

No, your original assertion was that there's a lot of people who claim the president sets oil prices. If you could do me a favor and show me several examples of that, that would be great.

You miss the point, as I said, since if someone critiques the president and his policies with respect to energy, this strawman that you're using (ie, that people claim the president sets prices) is used to defray any serious debate about the ways in which energy markets are influenced/manipulated by people in power. Taking over the country with the world's second largest petroleum reserves would count as one thing which influences the market, to say the least. There's plenty of other ways of influencing price as well.

But if you're going to stick with silly strawmen which mischaracterize people's actual positions, then then you just end up with garbage. To deny that a president (and especially this president) doesn't intentionally act in the interests of higher fuel prices is patently absurd. Just look at the prices and how they've moved. It's not a coincidence, and there's clear logical connections between policies and results.

And, no, I have no interest in discussing this further.


On the safety issue, I think people vary in the degree to which they are concerned about passive protection -- meaning, the scenario in which one imagines being victimized by an "unavoidable" accident.

In reality, though, most accidents can be prevented. We pay far too little attention to being better drivers (the software) and far too much attention to having invulnerable vehicles (the hardware).

If people were truly concerned about safety, they'd work first and foremost to avoid driving in the first place. No matter how good of a driver you are, no matter how "safe" your vehicle, the simple act of going out on the road (and especially at higher speeds) is simply one of the riskiest controllable activities a human being engages in.



Next year GM will begin sales of full-size pick-up and SUV with two-mode hybrid transmission. It is way more sophisticated and efficient drivetrain then in current Toyota hybrids, developed together with DC and BMW. Dodge and BMW models will follow. This transmission allows towing. Currently bigger variety of this transmission is widely employed on GM hybrid buses. We will see the sales numbers.


Most turob-libs who don't understand business and economics think that we went in to raise the price for oil companies. Ask and expert and they will correctly tell you we went in to keep it cheap for you the consumer addict. If we went in for oil at all, high % of people think we did.


Most turob-libs

Turbo-lib? Are you like 12 years old?

who don't understand business and economics

I understand both extremely well.

think that we went in to raise the price for oil companies. Ask and expert and they will correctly tell you we went in to keep it cheap for you the consumer addict.

So, I'm a "turbo-lib" and a "consumer addict". I see. So, if the intention was to "keep it cheap", how come precisely the opposite occurred? Now please lecture me about "supply and demand" and yammer some more. Then maybe you can go consult actual global supply and demand numbers for the past few years and try and find a logical correlation with price.

And thank you for proving my point, that the result of raising these issues is simply to resort to ad hominem attacks ("turbo-lib", "consumer addict", "you are clueless about economics and business"), as well as vague appeals to authority ("experts say...").

Unfortunately, I understand all these things quite well, and clearly your level of understanding is limited to talking points fed to you from forums that breed individuals who sent powder to people in the mail.


Not quite, but 25% improvement is still useful. One caveat is that the 25% gain over gasoline (25-30% efficiency) is within the lower range of high efficiency diesels (35-42%). It may come down to modern clean diesels (2008-2010) vs 2 mode hybrid (and perhaps upgraded version).



I believe that for real high-duty applications (often towing and cargo hauling) diesel is way better, as commercial vehicles – all diesel – have proved. I hope clean diesel will be available soon in US for big pick-ups and SUVs. However, as all of us know, there are tens of millions of such heavy vehicles almost exclusively used as one-passenger commuter car. For such buyers two-mode hybrid seems to be ideal.


Pizmo, yes only a turbo-lib uneducated in business typer person who defends moveon.dumbass would pump this crap about price that you are.
Take an economics class you might enjoy it and profit.
China and India are why oil went up. 20 yrs ago all bikes now millions of cars.
You think it got expensive, If Sadam had captured Kuwait unabaited he could have driven the price up 10x more than it went up.
Your 8th grade level arguments defy someone experienced in the topic. Though most of you fellow enthusiast are equally inept.


I'd respond, but first someone would need to translate that into English from Gibberish.


I didn't think moveon had an indepth analysis for you so your stuck.


I'm still waiting for that global supply and demand data correlated with price, "professor". Having trouble with that in the midst of babbling about "moveon" or whatever?

You must be quite traumatized by recent events.

Have a nice life.


we hold your breath I don't bother with people who don't understand the economics of extreme shortages and what that does to pricing.
We did have this little storm last year that cut off most gulf of Mexico oil for 6months and the price shot up from 50 to 80 on oil.
If you got out of High School you could do the Math on Sadam controlling Kuwait.

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