The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a plan recently to move fleet fuel economy averages to 35 MPG from the current 25.

The dinosaur auto industry – ever slow to embrace change – was not happy. The thing they don’t get is that there is a reason the Prius had such long waiting lists (up to a year back in 2005). Demand. Consumers want both economy (more miles for your gas dollar) and ecology (less environmental footprint). Barack Obama nailed it in a recent speech when he addressed the issue:

?For years, while foreign competitors were investing in more fuel-efficient technology for their vehicles, American automakers were spending much of their time investing in bigger, faster cars,? he said. ?Whenever an attempt was made to raise our fuel efficiency standards, the auto companies would lobby against it, spending millions to prevent the very reform that could?ve saved their industry.?

20 years and we haven’t moved past 30 MPG in fleet performance. The auto industry mantra? Jobs! Safety! Affordability. Jobs schmobs. All you do is retrofit existing plants to manufacture something different. No net effect on jobs. Now if we all took up bicycling and using cars less, then you might have a point. You could always make Hummer mountain bikes. Safety? This argument is tired. I’m more safe in a tank sure. Does that justify the long-term cost? Not to me. Drive safely and don’t get in accidents – that’s the key. Fuel efficient cars are not inherently less safe than big gas guzzlers. Affordability. Uh, that’s your job to manufacture more efficiently so that the price is acceptable to the consumer. There is a reason that signs in Big Three plants implore their workers to catch Toyota in the J.D. Power ratings. I’ve never once seen a sign in a Toyota plant begging workers to “beat GM”.

Looks like Clinton voted against the bill because some Big Oil incentives were added. Sigh…

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