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Automakers Rally US Citizens to Oppose Higher Fuel Economy Standards

by Jack Rosebro

Beginning this Memorial Day weekend, members of the auto industry are rolling out a comprehensive campaign to convince Americans to oppose proposed increases in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, and to pressure their elected officials to vote down such proposals.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) has launched a website ( that encourages citizens to compose messages of protest against “unrealistic fuel economy increases” to be hand-delivered to elected officials. AAM represents BMW, DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen.

The website allows users to insert statements provided by the AAM, such as “I value fuel economy, but I also want many other attributes in my automobile like safety, passenger and cargo room, performance, towing, hauling capacity and more” or “Rather than setting a harmful mandates [sic] like the one being proposed, the government should encourage the use of alternative fuels like ethanol, and provide incentives for consumers, like me, to purchase alternative fuel autos.”

The Detroit News reports that the campaign will also include at least a million dollars of radio ads in ten states that have a high percentage of truck and SUV owners.

The AAM’s efforts are bolstered by parallel campaigns from DaimlerChrysler and General Motors, each of which has brought a dedicated website online to help with the campaign.

According to GM’s website (, CAFE standards “deter innovation”; “have no near term effect on oil consumption”; “foster competitive disparities that discriminate against US  automakers”; and are “a 1970’s solution to a 21st Century problem.”

The website cites the steady rise in US oil consumption as an indicator that CAFE standards have failed, but does not calculate the level of consumption that might exist if such standards had not been enacted.

DaimlerChrysler’s password-protected website ( is described as a “grassroots advocacy website, a legislative activation tool that provides employees, retirees, dealers and suppliers with a means to conveniently contact elected officials about the issues that concern you, your family and our company.”

CAFE standards were enacted in 1975, when Congress ordered automakers to more than double the fuel economy for passenger cars from 13 miles per gallon to 27.5 miles per gallon within a decade, which the industry achieved. Since then, Congress has regularly considered increasing CAFE standards, but has not approved a fuel economy increase for passenger cars. Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) increased fuel economy standards for SUVs by 2 percent per year, rising from 21.6 miles per gallon to 24 miles per gallon by 2012.



I don't understand what the problem is. look around at the rest of the world and fuel economy is already much higher than what the proposed standards are to be. most of these companies just don't want to bring the technology over the big blue.


Shame on them.
Increased fuel economy is EXACTLY where they should be going - not ethanol or Iraq or Iran.
Just make cars that use less fuel.

Europe can do it, Japan can do it. Soon enough China will be doing it.
American engineers can do it - it is just marketing and management that need to get with the program.

Roger Pham

Talking about the auto industry in major denial. Higher CAFE standard should have been enacted 10 years ago, and that would have saved the Big 3 in a big way.

Oil prices have waxed and waned, thus can't be depended solely as the means for improving fuel efficiency.
Plus, there is a long time lag of years between the rise in oil price and auto industry introduction of fuel-efficient vehicles. Meanwhile, the public always wanted bigger and more powerful vehicles, and the automakers want to produce those for higher profit margin.

With CAFE, the automakers are forced to produce a significant numbers of smaller cars having higher fuel efficiency without necessarily incurring any extra development or production cost, and the public thus will have more choices of fuel-efficient vehicles to buy. No need to dabble in expensive hybrid technology just to get higher mpg numbers. Just downsizing the vehicle fleet and making 'em more aerodynamic, instead of making SUV's with super-duper large bore engines, having the in-your-face aerodynamic of a brick, would vastly improve the CAFE number.


This is practically suicidal. Not just environmentally, but in terms of American industrial competitiveness. Not to worry, oil prices will soon provide the education (by 2x4 over the head) the spoiled American SUV driver and the truck-pushing automakers desperately need. And if oil prices don't do it, the coming carbon tax regime certainly will.

The worst part of this type of shameless corporate propaganda is that it frames the issue as a zero-sum tradeoff of comfort and functionality vs. efficiency. The truth is that efficient cars are actually better, more functional and more convenient. And dealing with the efficiency challenges would position the automakers as global technology leaders and protect them against their gargantuan liability exposure in the coming post-carbon world.

The shareholders should revolt against this arm-dragging stupidity before they lose it all.


What was the famous line? Playing the violin while Rome burned?

"To do something trivial and irresponsible in the midst of an emergency; legend has it that while a fire destroyed the city of Rome, the emperor Nero played his violin, thus revealing his total lack of concern for his people and his empire."

Lou Grinzo

Holy cow--is this the brainchild of Bob Lutz? It sure sounds like his handiwork.


...take the market rules into account.
There is no need for a law that regulates fuel consumption of each car.
There should be only strict emmission rules!
The rest is would be done by the price of fuel and the money people want and are able to give for the gallon.


Black Sun: Apparantly you didn't read the article, because it was not only American auto makers that are resisting higher CAFE standards. And you speak of a "carbon tax regime". What regime is that? I have not heard or read of a single viable bill, or any other legislation, that would impose a carbon tax on American consumers. I think you may be out of touch.....
As far as fuel prices go, my vehicle is greater than 50% business use, so I write off my fuel costs every year. Fuel costs don't concern me, because you and every other American taxpayer is buying my gas.


I agree that the CAFE standards should have been raised years ago, it would have saved us from our own greed and driven technology.
Also, the market is now correcting that error and the big three are learning the hardway. How stupid can they be?


WOW pass the crack pipe Green freaks!!!
American car companies and Japaneese companies are making the guzzlers we want. Anybody check the fuel milage on the new Tundra pickup. LOL
Carbon tax will go down in flame, just like strick cafe standards. Shoot most tools are driving sedans with over 200hp, it's far from just SUV's you idiots.


And just where do you think that those foreign car companies sell the most cars? That's right, in america. So of course they're going to oppose legislation like this in america. Well I say, show me where I can help get the bill passed to raise the CAFE standard. These companies just ticked me off. Is there anyone out there where I can start forking money over to to start an advertising campaign against this campaign?


Thank goodness Honda didn't sign their name to this crap.


Just goes to show you how little respect Big Auto has for its customer! They believe that with a big PR campaign they can convince the American driver that mileage goals are not needed. This has always been the answer by Big Auto, plow more money into lobbyists, lawyers and ad men to control the industry, and not where it would really do the most good...R & D.

These are the people who have the the majority of U.S. citizens talked into driving huge SUVs at 16 mpg knowing the price increases by Big Oil were on the way. Right now they are in the process of dumping their gasoline SUVs at discount prices which will destroy their CAFE contracts and they know they cannot meet the standards without changing their business plan to include efficient smaller automobiles. An area where the margin is smaller than selling huge trucks and SUVs.

America, don't fall for this crap! It will not serve you well and will create another set of problems down the line; I suspect the problems will be expensive diesel engine/large auto related as that's what they are setting up to sell as an answer to fuel economy. Instead of gasoline powered huge SUVs they will attempt to sell diesel powered huge SUVs and claim how good the mileage from 16 mpg SUVs to 20 mpg SUVs are.

I suggest everyone demand their Congressmen vote for the new CAFE standards because that's the only chance we have to hold Big Autos feet to the fire of good sense.


One of the reasons I have a Honda Civic Hybrid.


This is an interesting coalition of automakers. And it includes some that already have fuel efficient vehicles (Toyota and Mazda).

Given Jevon's Paradox, I'm curious what the effect of the CAFE standards was on consumption when gasoline prices dropped below $1 in places in the late 90s.


With this website you can send any message you like - I am going to suggest that the 50mpg standard ought to come in the year 2020 and not 2030.

Jesus. I already get 50mpg. Why are these people so (*&(*& stubborn. This is so lame....

Regarding the foreign manufacturers, they merely state that AAM represents BMW, DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen. They don't state whether all of these manufacturers support this ham-handed attempt to influence Congress...

Robert Schwartz

CAFE is a failed policy. Why do you want to extend it? Because it makes you feel good?

P.S. Thanks for pointing me to the web-site Jack.

Joff Pentz

Nice one on the Jevon's Paradox reference!
In my economic experience, Jevon's Paradox has been used as a reason to ignore CAFE requirements (or at least leave them where they are) at national policy level as a means to reduce fuel usage for reasons inherent in the paradox itself. Rather, most economists propose fuel taxes to decrease consumption. Personally, I oppose an incease in any tax ;), but the fact that they work is well established, and would probably be the best way to approach the problem.


Has the automakers lost their F---ing minds. This campaign is the most ridculous this I have ever heard of. They should take the million dollars wasted on the this stupid campaign and put it to better use. Like building a real full size truck that gets a minimum of 40 mpg. CAFE standards should have been increased every ten years since the 70s or until someone comes out with a new type of engine that uses a renewable source of energy.


Everyone use their page to send letters to senators recommending INCREASING CAFE standards… unless of course they filter their emails to remove messages that do not conform to their propaganda needs.

Tim Russell

Looking at this page

I have to say I like "Motivate consumers to conserve fuel and to consider buying one of the many fuel-efficient autos on sale today." So how do you do this, fuel taxes, stick a carbon tax on the fuel. CAFE does not address peoples behaviour like a fuel tax would. To avoid a major shock to people ramp it up over a few years but I feel this would really change peoples behavior. If you know gas will cost $6 or more what would you look for in your next car.

Oh don't like that, want the somewhat (compaired to other western countries) cheap US fuel? CAFE is a cop-out for politicians whe fear the backlash of a fuel tax. That would be most of them BTW:

Let me explain for those that think CAFE is a great Idea:

The median age of a passenger vehicle in the US is almost 9 years. So a new car today may well be used for 18 years, more considering that cars are better built now than in the early 90's which would be some of the oldest cars in the current "fleet". That 35 MPG CAFE doesn't kick in for over a decade. So we won't get the 35 MPG average in the vehicle fleet for about another 25-30 years years or more. Consumer demand for higher MPG would bring this about much quicker. Fuel tax, yes the AAM will hate it too.

One last thing, stop blaming "Detroit", lots of automakers are building fuel hogs including Toyota (AAM member).

Mike Mangan

I say let the CAFE backlash begin. Protesters with picket signs in front of your local Toyota dealer will help them get their name off this piece of conservative crap legislation in a heartbeat.

Nobody can save Detroit from the own $ demise orchestrated by conservatives who'll be the first in line asking for another taxpayer bailout. I say let them rot in economic hell before I'll pay taxes to bail out a conservative cause.

At least the Jap's listen to customers, but they're already making $ billions, so greed must be their motivation. If Toyota bails, this CAFE thing will fizzle as it should.

Down with Toyota Greed!

Finally, if the AAM thinks the current proposed CAFE increase is extreme, let's show them what EXTREME REALLY is!

I say 50 mpg by 2015. It's techincally possible, if only we can get those anti-technology, doom and gloom, cry baby conservatives out of the way!


lol, CAFE is a failed policy. Yeah right. That's why fuel efficiency has doubled since the 70s and we still get to drive big, comfortable, safe vehicles. Get a clue.

tom deplume

CAFE may soon be irrelevant when there isn't enough gasoline to go around. When the minimum operating level is subtracted from gasoline stocks there is only 1 to 1 1/2 days supply margin. If a hurricane knocks out the Gulf of Mexico rigs or Texas refineries and that margin disappears.

C. Spangenberg

Automakers were also in Europe against the EU 120 G / KM CO2 Rule as "impossibel" but foregot that AUDI himself produced in the Year 2000 already the AUDI A2 1.2 which had a record of only 81 G / KM of CO2 without hybrid ( better then the about same interior size Prius2 with 104 G / KM ) .

So today it is eve more easy to produce efficient ars !!

C. Spangenberg

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