President Obama and distinguished
hostages auto execs just unveiled new emissions and fuel economy standards. The result? They've just killed all the fun cars.
In his opening, President Obama framed the historic moment by pointing out the gathering of auto executives, governors, legislators, environmental activists and others historically at odds with each other. He failed to mention the reason everyone is so happy to get together is that he has a gun to their heads in the form of government funding.
The goal of a new national standard is a mixed bag for automakers. On one hand, lawsuits and state standards are being dropped and the EPA and Department of Transportation standards are being combined. Obama also mentioned the increase in fuel economy will provide a savings for consumers over the life of a car and save 1.8 billion gallons of fuel.
On the other hand, helping determine what automakers should build does not create demand. Lots of fuel-efficient cars are out there today but most consumers aren't interested. CAFE doesn't deal with the demand side of the equation. We can continue forcing automakers to build fuel-efficient cars that nobody wants to buy, but unless we're willing to enact a higher fuel tax (with obvious progressive checks in place to deal with lower-income car owners) to out-price SUVs and pickup trucks, consumers won't change their habits.
But the details? Ah yes, the details — a 5% annual increase in average fuel economy from 2011, culminating in 35.5 MPG in 2016. The breakout will be 39 MPG for cars and 30 MPG for trucks. So basically, unless you're an automaker building an appliance, get out of the game. There's no room for a Corvette ZR1 or rear-wheel-drive power wagon. Nope, it's all going to be Priuses and Fusion hybrids from here on out. We'd move to Canada except we're assuming it'd be worse up there. Maybe Mexico is the place to go.