Car dealers are up in arms about a new federal fuel-efficiency rule that went into effect last month, and have asked Congress to step in and take another look. But Congress would be wise to ignore their complaints and let the rule stand. The new regulation, which mandates that automobile makers raise the average fuel efficiency of new vehicles to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, is an important step that will result in lower gasoline bills for consumers, less reliance on overseas energy sources, and reduced carbon emissions.
Currently, automakers’ new cars and trucks only must average less than 30 miles per gallon. The dealers fear that the rule, by forcing automakers to adopt more expensive technology, will raise the price of new cars an average of $1,000 in the next few years, driving away customers.
But automakers themselves have endorsed the rule. The companies have a decade to achieve the necessary changes — praised by Car and Driver as “carefully considered” — with an interim goal of hitting an average fuel efficiency of 37.8 miles per gallon by 2016. In the past, similar mandates have spurred technological innovation that softens the effect on vehicle prices. Further, while consumers may pay slightly higher prices up front, they should save significantly over a vehicle’s lifetime due to its greater fuel efficiency. Consumers purchasing a car at the 2016 standards will save over $4,000 at the pump over the period that they own their vehicle, which is four times the estimated increase in the sticker price. By 2025, the savings will be even greater.
These new regulations will not only drive innovation and save consumers money, but they will also help further the nation’s energy-independence and environmental goals. Reducing fuel consumption means the United States will drastically lower its greenhouse gas emissions, helping to prevent climate change. It also will greatly reduce American dependence on imported oil and decrease the foreign-policy leverage of oil-exporting countries in the Middle East, as the nation shifts towards an increasingly fuel-efficient auto fleet.