Motor Vehicle Fuel Efficiency

Trump’s Rollback of Fuel Economy Standards Will Cost Consumers Billions

Automakers Are Well on Their Way to Meeting Requirements—Trump’s Action Will Increase Pain at the Pump and Make U.S. Vehicles Less Competitive Globally

“With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting every aspect of our lives, Trump’s rollback of existing and achievable fuel efficiency standards couldn’t come at a worse time.  This tone-deaf, irresponsible effort will cost consumers at the pump, cost American jobs, reduce the value of U.S. vehicles globally, and further damage the environment and the air we breathe.  It’s a tragic move during these extraordinarily dire times.”  Jack Gillis, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of America

Washington, D.C. – In response to the Trump Administration’s move to gut the highly-popular, cost-saving, long ago accepted fuel economy standards, Jack Gillis, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of America and author of The Car Book, issued the following statements:

Consumers Will Pay Dearly for Trump’s Action:

“Rolling back fuel economy standards will result in a painful blow to consumer pocketbooks. President Trump’s action will force American families to pay $300 billion more than they should for gas or on average $3,200 more over the lifetime of a model year 2026 vehicle.[i] The current standards, set in place over 8 years ago, protect consumers from rollercoaster gas prices, which while currently low, will undoubtedly spike again, as history has shown. Americans have little choice in what they pay at the pump so they need fuel efficient choices when buying their next vehicle, whether it’s a car, truck or SUV. Denying families the current standards’ fuel savings will wreak havoc on household finances.  And with the coronavirus upon us, Trump’s timing couldn’t be worse for consumers and the economy.”

Trump’s Rollback Will Hurt U.S. Car Makers:

“CFA’s most recent analysis clearly shows automakers are on the road to achieving the standards. Severely stunting these gradual improvements – years before the full benefits of the standards surface – could roll the American auto industry back to when their lots were full of unsold vehicles in the late 2000s. This allowed foreign carmakers, with their fuel–sipping vehicles, to reap the sales while taxpayers had to bail out the U.S. carmakers.”

Trump is Flat-Out Wrong to Use Safety to Justify the Rollback:

Our vehicle safety report completely refutes one of Trump’s flawed rationales that, rolling back the standards would improve safety. Safety is up, fuel economy is up and sales, until the coronavirus hit, have been up. Not only do fuel savings from the current standards cover the cost of fuel efficient technology, but they cover all of the other costs that go into automakers annual price increases, including new safety features. The truth is that today’s “all-new” vehicles are the safest, most efficient, most desirable cars, trucks and SUVs in history. When it comes to protection for families or fuel savings, consumers don’t have to choose with the current standards. Fuel efficiency makes safety affordable.”

Fuel Efficient Trucks and SUVs Sell Better:

“Families and workers who need larger vehicles will be hurt the most by this rollback. CFA’s analysis of vehicle sales shows that popular SUVs, which have increased their MPGs by 15 percent, sell far better than those that had less than a 15 percent improvement. MPG standards have been a win-win for the people who need bigger cars and a boon for the automakers who sell them.”

Trump Ignores Public Support and Puts Big Business Before American Families:

“The American public does not want these standards rolled back. Survey after survey shows that consumers want the higher fuel efficiency standards that save them money. CFA’s latest survey, as well as others conducted over the past ten years, provides indisputable evidence that consumers strongly support them. Rolling back fuel efficiency standards places corporate interests over American families. Consumers want, and are happy to buy, safe, attractive and fuel efficient vehicles that go farther on every gallon of gas.”

Trump is Revoking States’ Rights:

“Another tremendous blow in Trump’s overall rollback effort is revoking states’ rights guaranteed in the Clean Air Act and in place since 1975. This goes against the will of fourteen states and DC who represent over 118 million Americans and over a third of the automotive market, as well as a coalition of 150 Members of Congress, 17 governors, and 20 state attorneys general have spoken out against this move. Trump is attempting to prevent those states from adopting a higher standard that would result in keeping cost-saving, fuel efficient cars from being sold in their states.”

The Rollback Puts Good Jobs At Risk:

“Tragically, good manufacturing jobs across the country will be at risk with this rollback. Jobs will be lost if Detroit again cedes market share to foreign car companies that are better equipped to meet increasing global demand for more fuel efficient cars. And with the coronavirus pandemic and associated increase in unemployment, Trump’s decision only makes things worse.”

[i] Consumer Reports, “The Un-SAFE Rule Update: Weakening Fuel Economy and Emissions Standards Costs Consumers Money in Every State” (November 2019).