Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, has submitted public comments supporting increased fuel economy standards for cars starting in 2017.
The standards—supported by automakers as well as regulators in Washington, D.C., and in California—would raise fuel economy targets to 54.5 mpg by 2025, building on standards that reach 39.4 mpg in 2015.
“The proposed target is reasonable and provides excellent value for consumers,” the comments say. “Improving fuel economy standards serves important national security, economic, and environmental goals and provides outstanding consumer benefits. A more efficient fleet will save consumers thousands of dollars in fuel costs.”
We have seen this borne out in our tests recent tests, where several new models have improved fuel economy by close to 25 percent over their predecessors. Consumers looking for a small sedan that gets more than 30 mpg overall in the real world now have several choices. So do consumers looking for a family sedan that gets more than 25 mpg overall, or those who want a hybrid or diesel that achieves more than 35 mpg overall. The new standards for 2015 have begun to phase in but don’t ramp up to 39-plus mpg until 2015.
In a recent survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, consumers demonstrated strong support for fuel efficiency standards, a desire for alternative fuel vehicle options and a willingness to pay for more efficient technology. An overwhelming majority, 93 percent said they believed that fuel efficiency standards for all vehicles should be improved. Even when it comes to fuels besides gasoline, 72 percent of consumers who planned to buy a vehicle said they would consider a hybrid, electric, flex-fuel or natural gas vehicle, and 83 percent were willing to pay extra for a fuel-efficient vehicle if the payback from lower fuel costs was less than five years.
In addition to Consumers Union’s formal comments, the organization collected and submitted more than 27,000 comments from individual consumers in support of the higher standards.
Although consumers will be paying slightly more money for more efficient vehicles, we believe they will more than recover this investment through savings at the pump. Once fully implemented, the standards will save most car buyers money in the very first month of ownership.