Automakers Fail to Improve Gas Mileage and Cut Air Pollution

Statement of Dan Becker, director, Safe Climate Campaign,
On the EPA Trends and Performance Reports


Stringent auto mileage and emissions rules have delivered cars and trucks with increasingly better gas mileage, saving consumers more than $50 billion at the pump since 2010 while slashing air pollution–until now. Today’s EPA reports demonstrate the wide gap between what the fleet was supposed to achieve and what automakers delivered. The rules projected a gas mileage gain of 1.0 mpg among 2016 models; the new-car fleet improved only 0.1 mpg, the barest minimum.

Projected improvement? 1 mpg. Delivered? One-tenth of 1 mpg. The auto companies missed the targeted improvement by 90 percent. This is auto mechanics, not rocket science. They have the technology to improve mileage. The standards need to be strengthened, not weakened. It doesn’t take a very stable genius to figure that out.

As in recent years, automakers chose to shift production from cars to gas-guzzling SUVs and other light trucks, thwarting the very standard they agreed to.

Automakers are taking advantage of loopholes they demanded in the rules—and grabbing huge markups on many SUVs and pickups—as they put Americans into gas-guzzling behemoths often hauling no more cargo than a cappuccino from Starbucks.

As written, the standard is the biggest single step any nation has taken to fight global warming and cut oil use. What’s behind the minuscule fuel efficiency gain? In 2013, gas mileage began to stagnate as automakers pushed consumers to buy gas-guzzling SUVs and other trucks, their most profitable line. (GM takes a $35,000 markup on a Cadillac Escalade that it sells for $73,000, the Detroit News reported). The huge markups on its biggest SUVs and pickups explain why the industry spends so much of its roughly $15 billion annual marketing budget cajoling consumers to buy trucks.

With nearly 50% markups on many SUVs and pickups, no wonder the auto companies are colluding with the Trump administration to weaken the rules, giving us gas-guzzling Trumpmobiles, stagnant gas mileage and more pollution.

Key details:

The U.S. 3 lagged all foreign manufacturers in gas mileage, topped all in emissions, and failed to use many key efficiency technologies.

  • Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler delivered the worst fuel efficiency of any of the 13 major manufacturers.
  • While individual U.S. automakers deployed some advanced gas-saving technologies, the companies fell far behind most foreign competitors in the overall use of such long-established technologies as stop-start systems and continuously variable transmissions.
  • Eight companies, including the U.S. 3, failed to hit their targets even with the use of such loopholes as claiming credit for equipping vehicles with an improved air conditioning refrigerant or taking “off-cycle” credits for installing solar car-roof panels.

The auto mileage trends report from the Environmental Protection Agency can be found here. The agency’s performance report can be found here.

The Safe Climate Campaign, a project of the Center for Auto Safety, advocates strong measures to fight global warming.

We can fight climate change even under Trump and a polluter-run petrocracy

By Dan Becker and James Gerstenzang


Rather than shunning science and their constituents’ health as they do today, key Republicans once worked with Democrats to fight pollution. President Richard M. Nixon signed the Clean Air Act and other celebrated environmental laws that Congress passed unanimously. The gap between Congressional Democrats and Republicans on major environmental votes, now roughly 85 percentage points, was about 10 points in the early 1970s.

Then industry hijacked Republican thinking on the environment.

On the second anniversary of the Paris climate accord, the Trump administration’s refusal to seriously engage in last

month’s global warming talks in Bonn — leaving the United States alone among nearly 200 nations — demonstrates how far out of line that kidnapping has left us diplomatically. A likely decision as early as this month to roll back a strong auto emissions standard demonstrates how it is playing out in the real world.

The corporate takeover is as toxic to the body politic as smoking is to the body — with this exception: While some smokers never get cancer, virtually every Republican member of Congress is wrapped in a smoggy blanket of campaign cash delivered by the fossil fuel or auto industries — and refuses to act against global warming. Many deny it even exists.

Click here to read the full article.

Trump and Ford are introducing the all-new 2018 Ford Trumpmobile: it wastes gas, wastes money, and pollutes our air.

smoke_factory (2)

Global Warming 101

A Safe Climate for All of Us

The Safe Climate Campaign is working to solve the biggest challenge we face: Global warming. The technology exists today to protect our fragile climate by cutting our dependence on polluting fossil fuels, such as oil. We have a responsibility to our children and our communities to take sensible steps now to become good stewards of the…

To read more about Global Warming 101: Science, Sources, Solutions and Impacts, click here

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Opinion articles by Safe Climate Campaign

cnn-logoEgged on by the auto industry, President Trump is expected to start unraveling strong mileage and emissions rules that protect US energy security, consumers, the environment and even automakers’ healthy profits.

After lengthy negotiations with car makers, the Obama administration had set the standards in 2012. As written, the standards would phase in a new fleet of vehicles that would average more than 50 mpg in 2025. The average for the new-vehicle fleet today is…

Read more…

Safe Climate Campaign in the News

Feds: Carmakers averaged nearly 25 mpg in 2016. The Detroit News. January 11, 2018.

Auto efficiency makes gains, but falls short of target. AP via The Washington Post. January 11, 2018.

Reuters via CNBC. January 11, 2018.


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From NOAA: History of atmospheric carbon dioxide from 800,000 years ago until January, 2016.






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