Motor Vehicle Fuel Efficiency

Ford’s Decision to Abandon Sedans Strengthens Need to Keep Fuel Efficiency Standards in Place

CAFE Standards Respect Manufacturers Ability to Produce Larger Vehicles— No Need for Trump/Pruitt Rollback of Standards

Washington D.C. — As the Trump/Pruitt team at the U.S. EPA reconsiders the 2012 CAFE standards which were agreed to by extraordinarily diverse interest groups including automakers, unions, environmentalists, and consumer activists, Ford’s decision provides the strongest rationale for keeping achievable and less onerous requirements on the larger vehicles it will continue to produce.

“Not only are gas prices already rising and consumers, themselves, desirous of the fuel efficiency standards, but vehicles with higher fuel economy sell better than those with lower MPGs,” said Jack Gillis, CFA’s Director of Public Affairs and author of The Car Book. “The most immediate impact of the Trump/Pruitt fuel efficiency roll back would be on already hard-hit household budgets at a time when gas prices on their way back up again.”

An analysis of all SUV’s, crossovers and light trucks produced in 2017, which were also available in 2011, shows that vehicles which increased their fuel economy by 15% or more over the last 6 years (when the fuel economy standards first started), saw far greater increases in sales (over double) when compared to vehicles which increased their fuel economy by less than 15%. While consumers are increasingly buying larger vehicles, they are doing so in part because of the money saving increases in fuel efficiency.

“The bottom-line, with Ford’s decision to abandon more fuel efficient vehicles and with gas prices rising, consumer pocketbooks desperately need the financial protection offered by the current, achievable, and sensible fuel efficiency standard,” added Gillis

The current standard represents a sensible, elegant solution to the fact that larger, heavier vehicles are generally less fuel efficient. One of the reasons why the carmakers supported the standards in the first place was because they respected both consumers’ desire for a variety of vehicles from large to small, and manufacturers’ desire to produce various types of vehicles.  Rather than require a single average standard for the fleet, which would have favored the fuel sipping Japanese and Korean manufacturers over the U.S. companies who focus on large SUVs and pickups, the standard created different requirements based on the size of the vehicle. In that way, if companies like Ford want to focus on larger vehicles, they have less stringent requirements than companies like Honda who tend to produce smaller vehicles.

“Ford’s announcement that it will abandon sedans, which tend to be more fuel efficient than SUVs and crossovers, provides one of the strongest arguments yet to keep the nation’s fuel efficiency standards in place,” said Gillis.

Contact: Jack Gillis, 202-939-1018