40 Years of Fuel Economy: Govt & Industry


from http://blog.drivetime.com/


MPG: 40 Years of Politics 
The past 40 years of our automobile’s fuel efficiency has been largely helped – and hurt by our government. Here we break down the past 4 decades of MPG ratings and how they were determined.

1970′s – Average MPG: 14

  • The oil price shock of the 1970′s pressured Congress to introduce CAFE standards in 1975.
  • This new law called for the doubling of passenger cars’ fuel economy to 27.5 MPG within the next 10 years.

1980′s – Average MPG: 27.5

  • Due to CAFE, vehicle efficiency increased steadily throughout the decade, hitting the required 27.5 MPG mark set by Congress.
  • Ford and GM lobbied Congress to lower the standard, to 26 MPG in 1986.
  • “We are about to put up a tombstone: “Here lies America’s energy policy.” – Chrysler Chairman Lee LaCocca

1990′s – Average MPG: 26

  • Senators Richard Bryan (D-Nev) and Slade Gorton (R-Wash) sponsored legislation that would raise fuel economy standards over 40% in the next decade.
  • The bill was filibustered on the Senate floor by Michigan senators. If it were to pass, the US would be saving over 1 million barrels of oil per day.
  • Congress then passed an anti-fuel economy rider that remained in effect from 1995 – 2000, barring the president from changing fuel economy standards.

2000′s – Average MPG: 25

  • Congress lifts the freeze on fuel economy in 2000, standards are raised on light trucks only by 2%.
  • In 2005, after 4 years of debate, Congress failed to increase the MPG standards.

2010′s – Average MPG: 27

  • New CAFE standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks are introduced, improving standards by 10-20% by 2018.
  • The EPA has raised standards for passenger cars to 54.5 MPG by 2025.

“This will be win, win, win; it will reduce reliance on oil, strengthen energy security and mitigate climate change.” -Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood



By Chris Piper

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About Author:

is editor and publisher at Smarticd and an internationally recognized expert in the field of automotive environmental issues. He has been an automotive editor and writer for more than three decades. His media experience includes Petersen Publishing (now part of The Enthusiast Network), Green Car Journal, trade magazines, newspaper and television news reporting. He currently serves on the Board of the Western Automotive Journalists.

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