Consumer Reports supports 62 mpg standard

(July 1, 2011) Consumer Reports on Thursday said it supports boosting fuel efficiency standards to 62 mpg — above an initial proposal of 56.2 mpg floated by the White House.

The influential consumer magazine said moving to 62 mpg by 2025 would save consumers about $6,000 in owner costs over the life of the vehicle and cut U.S. gasoline consumption by one-third.

Jim Guest, president of Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, said, "Improving fuel economy standards is one of the most effective ways to save consumers money at the pump.  We believe that an aggressive standard with a long lead time for auto manufacturers will foster the development of better cars that use less gas at an affordable price." 

David Champion, the senior director of Consumer Reports' auto test division, said, "A minimum standard of 56 miles per gallon is definitely good for consumers and currently achievable, but 62 is even better. Technologies to attain this level of improvement exist, and the automakers can incorporate them over the next 15 years." These advanced technologies are currently on the market today. "In our testing, we've already seen highway consumption of 55 mpg in a Toyota Prius hybrid and 49 mpg in a Volkswagen Golf diesel."

But automotive officials including NADA, governors from 15 states, and automotive industry leaders say the proposed mileage standard could raise the price of new vehicles by up to $3,500 — a move that could substantially reduce sales and eliminate jobs.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder told the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday that he initiated a letter sent by 15 governors to top federal regulators raising concerns about the Obama administration's plan to require automakers to reach a 56-mpg standard by 2025.

"The auto industry has been restructured in a positive way, and they are already moving forward in a positive way on fuel economy," Snyder said. "We want to make sure the new standards are chosen in a thoughtful way that balances all of the economic considerations involved here."

The letter called for sensible standards for 2017-25 that would not hurt the auto industry, the larger economy or leave drivers with fewer choices. "I was pleased that we had 15 of us, and we viewed this as an appropriate way to make sure our states' voices are heard," he said.

Fourteen of the 15 are Republicans. They represent primarily car-producing states.

The letter itself does not mention the 56 mpg proposal, but urged Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to "carefully balance the factors that impact sensible fuel economy standards, including consumer choice, affordability and the economic concerns."

Sources: Consumer Reports, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News