Auto Dealers Travel to Nation’s Capitol to Promote Responsible Boost in Fuel Economy

Dealers Tell Congress that Consumer Needs Should Drive Responsible Fuel Economy Increase

WASHINGTON (July 17, 2007) - New car and truck dealers from across the country are meeting today with key members of the House of Representatives in support of efforts to enact reasonable increases in the national Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard.  Dealers are urging their Representatives to support a bill, H.R. 2927-the Hill-Terry CAFE alternative, which would boost fuel economy 30 to 40 percent over the next 15 years.

They are emphasizing that consumers will ultimately determine the success or failure of any federal efforts to alter fuel economy standards.

“There's a fine line between mandating more fuel economy and meeting consumer needs,” said Dale Willey, NADA chairman.  “Just because Congress sets an unreasonable CAFE standard that doesn't mean that consumers will buy these vehicles.  If they can't get the vehicle that meets their needs, they'll keep the ones they have, and that would defeat the goal of increasing fuel economy.”

With House action on fuel economy expected as soon as next week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other lawmakers have stated publicly that they are supporting the more severe CAFE hike approved by the Senate last month-a 35 mpg minimum combined car/truck standard.  To meet the stringent Senate standard and other more radical proposals, automakers would be forced to significantly downsize their vehicles to those that carry less cargo, fewer people, and compromise safety.  These unrealistic standards would significantly raise vehicle prices as new fuel saving technologies, such as hybrids or diesels, would add between $2,000 to $5,000 to the cost of a vehicle; or simply eliminate certain models altogether.

“The harder you push on an arbitrary CAFE standard and an arbitrary starting date, the bigger the risk of manufacturing vehicles that conflict with consumer demand instead of complementing or harnessing consumer demand,” said Willey. 

The Hill-Terry CAFE alternative boosts current standards to between 32 to 35 mpg by Model Year 2022.  Unlike the Senate package, the Hill-Terry bill permits separate attribute standards for different classes of vehicles like cars, trucks and SUVs, protecting the diversity in vehicles that American consumers demand.  The measure not only gives automakers enough lead-time to develop the technology needed to meet the new standards, but balances fuel-economy increases with vehicle diversity, safety concerns and affordability.