Motor Vehicle Fuel Efficiency

Freezing U.S. Fuel Economy Standards Will Cost Consumers and Hurt Sales of U.S. Car Companies

Administration Needs to Put Americans First and Keep Money Saving Standards in Place

Washington D.C. – Jack Gillis, the Consumer Federation of America’s Director of Public Affairs and author of The Car Book released the following statement in response to a report this morning that the U.S. Department of Transportation may freeze the fuel economy standards at the 2021 level rather than go forward with the gradual increase through the 2025 model year as agreed to 6 years ago by the car companies, consumer groups, environmentalists, unions and others:

“If the department takes this action, it will put the U.S. automakers at a distinct competitive disadvantage to their Asian competitors.

“Public opinion surveys, including one recently conducted by CFA, demonstrate unquestionably that consumers want more fuel-efficient vehicles and that they strongly support standards requiring them.

CFA’s analysis of automaker progress on the road to 42 MPG by 2025, released yesterday, makes it clear that Congress and the Administration would be making a serious mistake in rolling back the standards. Not only would the impact be felt by already financially-strapped Americans, but it would put the U.S. car companies at a disadvantage, both nationally and globally, in competing with the foreign manufacturers, who are quite capable of complying with the standards. Our report demonstrated that not only do fuel economy standards pay off in lower ownership and operating costs, but also that carmakers are fully capable of meeting the standards at a reasonable cost.

“And it’s in their best interest because improving fuel economy improves sales. Nearly half of “all-new” 2017 vehicles cost less to buy and fuel than their 2011 counterparts and 27 percent of the “all-new” 2017 vehicles cost less than their 2011 counterparts and got better fuel economy. Comparing the sales figures for 2016 SUVs and light duty trucks with the 2011 models, those that increased the fuel efficiency by over 10% sold nearly 20% more vehicles than those with a less than 10% increase in fuel efficiency.

“This should be no surprise, because the standard was specifically designed to help manufacturers meet the challenges they face with improving fuel efficiency. The current standards are not “one-size fits all” and were specifically crafted to respect the differing vehicle mixes among manufacturers as well as consumer choice. The result – the standards have helped create a much more efficient U.S. auto fleet while preserving both manufacturer and consumer choice on size, weight and performance.

“This short-sighted thinking by the Administration, certain members of Congress and the auto companies ignores global market realities and consumer demand for better mileage. We hope the Administration and our Congress stays clear of any roll back or stagnation that forces American families into cars that cost them more at the pump.”

Contact: Jack Gillis, 202-737-0766; Christina Heartquist, 415-453-0430


The Consumer Federation of America is a nonprofit association of more than 250 consumer groups that was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.