Do The New Fuel Economy Standards Go Far Enough?

On December 19, the United States Congress passed a new energy bill which, among other things, put the 100 watt incandescent light bulb on death row (they’ll be outlawed by 2012) and increased fuel economy standards for the first time in over two decades. That same day, President Bush signed the bill in to law after having it delivered to him in a Toyota Prius hybrid car.

While many have hailed the bill as a long over due reform, others have argued that the changes – specifically increasing the fuel economy standard for new cars and trucks to 35 mpg by 2020 – do not go far enough and should have been much more stringent.

Not surprisingly, many Daily Fuel Economy Tip visitors fall into the “left wanting more” group. Here’s how readers responded when asked, “Do you feel the Government’s new fuel economy standards are tough enough?”:

  • 42% said, “No, they are inadequate.”
  • 33% said, “They are a good start, but could have been tougher.”
  • 18% said, “Yes, they are more than adequate.”
  • 7% said, “Unsure.”

I felt that the fuel economy standards probably should have been a little bit tougher simply because I feel that “American ingenuity” should be more than enough to get the average gas mileage for cars sold in this country above 35 mpg 13 years from now.

That being said, I think that if consumers put their collective money where their collective mouths are and purchase the most fuel efficient vehicles they can, the GMs and Fords of the world would produce more fuel efficient vehicles much more quickly than if forced to by some Government standard. After all, they’re in business to make money. If people continue to buy inefficient vehicles, that’s what car manufacturers are going to continue to make.

In the end, this is a big step in the right direction and hopefully will help lead to many environmentally friendly and energy efficient breakthroughs.


  1. Asking consumers if they are good enough means nothing. They will answer based on what they want to have to pay for gas costs, not on any sort of engineering basis.

  2. Dan,

    Nobody would expect the average reader of this blog to be an engineer who might know what would be necessary to achieve such a goal, nor a business finance specialist who would be able to run a cost/benefit analysis.

    Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see, among this (as has been pointed out before) self-selecting group, what people perceive as the balance between need and ability.

  3. Lindon Jennings says

    A recent survey reported that about 90 different vehicles now have a MPG rating of 30 or better. That means the new law just passed is ludicrous. Sounds to me like the “good ol’ boys” are afraid they might lose some oil profits by giving us decent fuel efficiency. If you will check it out you will find that the oil lobbyists fought very hard against this new law and only gave in when this new standard of 30MPG was negotiated in Congress. I feel we are being sold down the river by all lobbyists and should be banned from any activity having to do with legislation of any kind. The oil lobbyists know we need at least 100 MPG to get us out of the present hole we have dug. The economy will only continue to suffer if this is allowed to be the way things are done in Washington.

  4. I’m no avid conspiracy theorist, but I hate the arguement that if it were that easy to increase fuel economy the auto manufacturer would have already done it. With the amount of money that oil companies make they are probably better customers than Americans. Think of the EV1, a silly looking little electric car with little range – what it did have was tons of consumer demand. So in a supply and demand, black and white world GM woud have sold as many as America was willing to buy. They didn’t, I doubt they lost an money by not selling them. – sorry for the micro rant, put away my mini soap box now….k…thanks

  5. victor scott says

    I believe that the standards are lacking in vision. In 1979 the GM 5.7 diesel in a 4000 lb car acheived 38- 40 mpg. The vW rabbit diesel pickup recieved 60 mpg- the Ford festive recieved 55-65 mpg only to name a few. If we as a people believe that we are setting standards to reach a goal of energy independence, Then lets set a real standard of at least 40-50 Mpg, and all city vehicles that are for daily commute travel, would have to be electric autos. Taxis , busses, garbage collection, govement officials, commuters. It concerns me to see peope driving a 4 door dodge 3/4 ton pickup for going to work ten miles away and running to the grocerie store. please change the laws to reflect a more comprehensive plan.

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