Consumer Groups Fight Back on Trump’s Plan to Kill Money-Saving MPG Standards

Administration Breaks Promise of Fuel Savings to American Families

Washington, D.C. — In comments submitted jointly with 32 of America’s consumer groups to the U.S. EPA and NHTSA in response to the Administration’s ill-founded proposal to roll back and freeze the highly-popular, cost-saving fuel economy standards at their 2020 level, Jack Gillis, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of America and author of The Car Book, issued the following statements:

A Broken Promise

“Rolling back our miles-per-gallon standards is a broken promise to the American people. Families cannot afford to spend more money at the pump. These standards protect consumers from rollercoaster gas prices that are already on their way up again (up 16% in the last year). This is why over two-thirds of Americans support federal fuel economy standards. Households don’t have a choice in what they pay at the pump so they need fuel efficient choices at the dealership, whether it’s a car, truck or SUV. Denying families the fuel savings that will come from the current standards will wreak havoc on household finances.”

Blaming the Need for Rollbacks on Safety is Flat Out Wrong:

Our safety report completely refutes the Administration’s flat-out wrong rationale for rolling back the standards. In our most recent analysis, CFA has determined that all new 2018 vehicles are not only more fuel efficient, but they are also more crashworthy and include more safety features than their previous versions.  Not only do auto safety experts and NHTSA (whose own data shows that vehicles are safer) debunk the Administration’s safety claims, but they were also rejected by 76% of consumers in a recent national survey.  The fact is, safety is up, fuel economy is up and sales are up. The truth is that today’s “all-new” vehicles are the safest and most efficient cars, trucks and SUVs in history, and consumers are responding by buying them in record numbers. When it comes to protecting your family and saving money on gas, you don’t have to choose.”

Fuel Efficiency Pays for Itself and Everything Else

“Not only does fuel savings cover the cost of fuel efficient technology, but it will often cover all of the other costs that go into automakers annual price increases many times over, including new advanced safety features. When examining 2018’s “all-new” vehicles, CFA determined that 50% of these vehicles were actually cheaper to purchase and fuel compared to their 2011 counterparts.  Consumers who purchase a new vehicle today, will typically save $860 over the cost of fuel efficiency technology—savings which will grow as gas prices increase. Not only is this a benefit to household finances, but when these consumers spend these savings on other household goods and services, the economy gets a boost.”

Fuel Efficient Trucks and SUVs Sell Better

“Families and workers that need larger vehicles will be hurt the most by this rollback. Ironically, as the car companies request a rollback, the resulting fuel efficiency improvements brought about by the standards have made these vehicles more desirable, increasing sales for automakers. CFA’s analysis of vehicle sales shows that popular SUVs, which have increased their MPGs by 15 percent, sell far better than those who had less than a 15 percent improvement. MPG standards have been a win-win for the people who need bigger cars and, ironically, for the automakers who sell them. In the years since the standards were enacted, car makers have enjoyed the highest vehicle sales in American history.  Increasing fuel efficiency helps make new vehicles entering the market more affordable for consumers.”

Short Sighted Action Will Hurt U.S. Car Makers

CFA’s recent analysis clearly shows automakers are on the road to achieving the standards, with many vehicle models already meeting the 2025 standard. Halting this progress at 2020 – half a decade before we’ll see the full benefits of the standards – will roll the American auto industry back to the days of the last fuel price spike when lots of vehicles remained unsold and the taxpayers had to bail them out while foreign carmakers reaped the sales with their fuel–sipping vehicles.”

Putting Corporations Before People

“The American public does not want these standards rolled back. Survey after survey shows that consumers want the higher fuel efficiency standards because they save money. CFA’s latest survey provides indisputable evidence that consumers of all political ideologies strongly support them. (61% of Republicans, 66% of independents and 71% of Democrats) In fact, states that are dependent on the auto industry support the standards to an even higher degree compared to the general populace. To roll back fuel efficiency standards is to put corporate lobbyists’ wish lists over the needs of American families, who want, and are buying, safe, attractive and efficient vehicles that go farther on every gallon of increasingly more expensive gas.”

Revoking States’ Rights

“Revoking states’ rights guaranteed under the Clean Air Act, in place since 1975, goes against the will of thirteen states and DC representing 113 million Americans and over a third of the automotive market. These states have chosen address their own unique air quality issues which have resulted in cost-saving, efficient cars for their citizens. The standards are also immensely popular, with over 2 out of 3 consumers supporting states’ rights to adopt the clean car standards.”

Good Jobs Will Be At Risk

“Tragically, good manufacturing jobs across the country will be at risk with this proposed rollback. Jobs could be lost if Detroit again cedes market share to foreign car companies fully prepared to meet increasing national and global demand for more fuel efficient cars.”

Contact: Jack Gillis, 202-939-1018

*Consumer groups joining the Consumer Federation of America in comments to NHTSA and EPA opposing the proposed freeze and rollback of the federal fuel economy standards and the revocation of the California waiver:

Arizona Consumers Council Foundation
Arizona PIRG Education Fund
California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (30)
Chicago Consumers Council
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana
Colorado Public Interest Research Foundation
ConnPIRG Education Fund
Consumer Action
Consumers Council of Missouri
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety
Florida Consumer Action Network
Florida Public Interest Research Group Education Fund
Illinois PIRG Education Fund
Maryland Public Interest Research Foundation
Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group Education Fund
Montana Organizing Project
New Mexico PIRG Education Fund
North Carolina Public Interest Research Group Education Fund
Ohio PIRG Education Fund
Oregon Citizens Utility Board
OSPIRG Foundation
Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group Education Fund
PIRGIM Education Fund
Policy Matters Ohio
Public Interest Research Foundation of New Jersey
Texas Consumer Association
Texas Public Interest Research Group Education Fund
U.S. PIRG Education Fund
Virginia Citizens Consumers Council
Washington Public Interest Research Group Foundation
WisPIRG Foundation

For a copy of the full comments, click here.