Motor Vehicle Fuel Efficiency

Trump Using “Safety” To Kill Fuel Economy Standards Is Flat-Out Wrong

Under The Nation’s Fuel Economy Standards Vehicles Are Safer and Sell Better

Washington D.C. — In response to the just announced roll back of the nation’s fuel economy standards by the Trump Administration, the Consumer Federation of America’s report, Fuel Economy Standards: There is No Tradeoff with Safety, Cost and Fleet Turnover, indicates that as fuel efficiency has increased, new vehicles have become safer, sold more and are replacing older less safe vehicles in record numbers.

“This report completely refutes the Trump Administration’s convoluted rationale for rolling back the standards,” said Jack Gillis, CFA’s Executive Director, and author of the report. “Safety is up, fuel economy is up and sales are up. Older, less safe, more expensive to operate, gas guzzling cars are being replaced by some of the safest and most efficient vehicles ever produced.  Consumers are responding by buying new cars in record numbers—clearly they want vehicles that save both lives and money.”

Among the Top Findings from CFA’s Latest Report on Safety and Fuel Economy:

  • The average fuel economy of “all-new” 2018 vehicles[i] increased to 25.1 MPG from 21.8 MPG in 2011 (a year before current standards were adopted).
  • 2018’s “all-new” vehicles include an average of 12.3 advanced safety features such as blind-spot detection and lane keeping assist, compared to an average of 7.4 in 2011.
  • Drivers of “all-new” vehicles introduced in 2018, compared to their 2011 models, will save an average of $2,605, which more than pays for the average sticker price increase of $2,127. Not only will fuel savings cover any cost of fuel saving technology, but will cover all of the other costs that go into carmaker price increases including new safety features, new technology and design changes.
  • Each year for the past five years, an average of 16.9 million new, safer and more fuel efficient vehicles (17 million over the last two years) have been added to the fleet, while an average of 13 million older, less safe and less fuel efficient vehicles have been retired. The bottom line: Along with becoming more fuel efficient, the overall fleet is becoming safer every year.
  • Already, 2018 is projected to be another record year in vehicle sales, with a record 8,617,655 sold in the first half of the year alone, up 1.9% from last year.
  • For the 75% of car buyers who can’t afford to buy new and purchase used cars, the availability of safer, more fuel efficient, choices increases every year.

“When it comes to safety and fuel savings, you don’t have to choose – fuel efficiency standards make safety affordable,” said Gillis.

“Gas prices have risen 20 percent in just one year,” added Gillis. “Rolling back the standards may help the oil companies, but will leave consumers paying the price. Sensible standards are consumer’s best protection when it comes to volatile gas prices.”

In 2012, automakers, consumers, unions, environmentalists, the government and other stakeholders agreed to fuel economy standards that increased sensibly through model year 2025. The standards are flexible with different targets for larger and smaller vehicles. This gives automakers the freedom to invest in any type of vehicle they choose, while consumers save money at the pump no matter what kind of vehicle they buy. And it means that automakers have different requirements based on their fleet makeup enabling them to produce the types of vehicles they think will sell the best.

A detailed EPA midterm review found that not only do the standards continue to be technically and economically feasible, but that compliance costs were lower than predicted. Tragically the Trump Administration has rejected those findings, and plans to weaken the rules.

Contact: Jack Gillis, 202-939-1018; Christina Heartquist, 415-453-0430


[i] NOTE: When a car maker introduces an “all-new” model, that version of the vehicle essentially remains the same for about 5 years.  During that time, while the car maker will tweak certain aspects of the vehicle, the mechanical underpinnings generally remain the same.  As such, it is difficult to make any significant improvements in the fuel efficiency of that particular vehicle during its model series.  On the other hand, each year manufacturers introduce 25-30 truly “all-new” versions of their vehicles and that’s when they have the opportunity to incorporate the latest fuel saving technology and significantly increase the vehicle’s fuel efficiency.  For this part of the report, CFA looked at the models that were “all-new” for 2018, that is, significantly redesigned, and compared them with their pre-standard predecessors (2011 models).  There were 19 “all-new” models that had 2011 predecessors.