Consumer Reports Urges Carmakers To End Support For Trump Fuel Economy Freeze

Consumer Reports Urges Carmakers To End Support For Trump Fuel Economy Freeze

Consumer Reports is urging eight automakers, including General Motors, Toyota, Nissan and Fiat Chrysler, to end their support of the Trump administration’s lawsuit seeking to overturn the Clean Air Act.

The publication sent letters to those four companies, as well as Subaru, Mazda, Hyundai, Kia and Mitsubishi, citing research that a full rollback of the federal law would raise the cost of owning an average new vehicle by $3,300 by 2025, or an additional $460 billion for American consumers in the aggregate.

“If these companies are committed to a zero-emission future, they should support rules that have been proven to encourage technological innovation,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, Consumer Reports’ manager of cars and energy policy. “The current rules and state authority help protect consumers and reduce pollution. Undoing the standards would threaten this progress and the future fuel savings for drivers.”

Ford, Volkswagen, Honda and BMW have agreed to standards set by the California Air Resources Board that will increase the average fuel economy of their fleets by 3.7% each year from 2021 to 2026. The Trump administration wants to freeze federal fuel economy standards this year at about 37 miles per gallon.

But last October, General Motors, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and their lobbying group, the Association of Global Automakers, said they would intervene to support the Trump administration’s freeze. They want one uniform national set of rules governing fuel economy and emissions.

Consumer Reports attached to its letter a petition signed by 75,364 consumers supporting current Clean Car emission standards in California and other states.

Those standards were proposed by the Obama administration and approved by Congress in 2012. They called for each automaker to boost the average fuel economy of their fleets to about 46.7 miles per gallon by 2026, but there was some flexibility in the law that acknowledged the changing mix of vehicle types each company is selling – specifically the continuing consumer trend toward pickup trucks and SUVs and away from passenger cars.

In addition, last September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation said it would revoke California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own limits on greenhouse gas emissions of new vehicles. More than a dozen other states already follow the California emission rules.

California, the Environment Defense Fund and a coalition of cities and states sued to stop the Trump administration from stripping states of their emission regulations.

Baker-Branstetter also said that California and the other states following its lead account for 40% of the U.S. new vehicle market.

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