CU: Fuel standards will save money at the gas pump

November 16, 2011

Consumers Union: Fuel Standards Will Save Consumers Money at the Gas Pump
Consumer Reports National Poll Shows Strong Support for Better Fuel Standards

WASHINGTON — The White House today formally announced the details of its proposed fuel economy rules for cars and light-duty trucks. Under the rules new vehicles would need to achieve combined fuel-economy standards of 54.5 miles per gallon between 2017 and 2025. Current standards require automakers to raise fuel efficiency from 27 mpg today to 35.4 mpg by 2016.

Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, said, "These standards will help consumers save money at the gas pump, cut pollution, and reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Fifty-four-point-five miles per gallon by 2025 is a strong, achievable target that would save car owners thousands of dollars on gas over the life of the vehicle. Our surveys show car buyers want better fuel standards, particularly because they want to spend less on gasoline. These standards put us on the right track toward the development of affordable, quality cars that use less gas."

A recent national survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center indicated strong support for the proposed fuel standards.

When asked if fuel economy standards should require auto manufacturers to increase the overall fleet average to 55 miles per gallon by 2025, 80 percent of respondents agreed.

More than three-quarters of consumers (77 percent) said car manufacturers should produce more fuel-efficient vehicles and the government should increase standards and enforce them. Nearly all respondents — 93 percent — said fuel efficiency for all vehicles should be improved.

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents with at least one car expected their next vehicle purchase to have better fuel economy. Among those who planned to purchase a more fuel efficient vehicle, 89 percent cited lower fuel costs as a primary motivator.

More than half of respondents (56 percent) said they were considering hybrid or electric cars for their next vehicle. If availability of alternative fuel vehicles improved over the next 15 years, 72 percent of consumers said they would consider them. Eighty-one percent said they were willing to pay extra for a more fuel efficient vehicle if it would lower their operating costs.

Today’s announcement by the White House comes as automakers and journalists are gathering for the opening of the LA Auto Show, the annual auto show held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, where fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles are expected to generate a lot of attention and discussion.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households. 1,008 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+. Interviewing took place over October 28- October 31, 2011. The margin of error is +/- 3.1% points at a 95% confidence level.