U.S. Alliance Debunks Myths Surrounding Fuel Efficient Cars

NEW YORK, New York, April 16, 2011 (ENS) – Go60MPG, a new alliance of American environmental groups, is rallying support to raise federal fuel efficiency standards for new cars to 60 miles per gallon by the year 2025.

Go60MPG is a joint effort of Environment America, the National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Safe Climate Campaign, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The most fuel efficient family sedan on U.S. roads today is the 2011 Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrid, with its four cylinder, 1.8 liter engine and nickel-metal hydride battery. It gets 51 miles per gallon in the city and 48 on the highway, according to government data at www.fueleconomy.gov.

Ahead of the Electric Drive Transportation Association 2011 Conference being held April 19-21 in Washington, DC, and the New York International Auto Show being held April 22-May 1 in New York City, Go60MPG issued this statement debunking the five most prevalent myths about high mile per gallon (mpg) cars.

The Toyota Prius is the most fuel efficient family sedan on U.S. roads. (Photo by CrunchGear)

1. MYTH: Americans don’t want high mpg cars and aren’t buying them.

FACT: High mpg car sales are rising sharply. March sales figures point to surging demand for hybrids and other fuel efficient cars. Michigan-based auto market expert Alan Baum’s analysis shows sales of hybrids and clean diesels rose 46 percent from March 2010 to March 2011, almost three times as fast as the overall market.

Baum’s data also show small cars and hybrids are the most in demand in the used car market, with the increase in the value of the Toyota Prius hybrids exceeding all other vehicles.

2. MYTH: Detroit can’t make money selling high mpg cars.

FACT: High mpg standards can be profitable for Detroit and can help boost U.S. technology innovation. A March 2011 Citi report released by Ceres and the Investor Network on Climate Risk shows that stronger fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards will boost profits and sales in 2020 for the auto industry worldwide.

3. MYTH: Automakers oppose high mpg cars.

FACT: Automakers understand that fuel efficiency is now driving auto consumer purchases. When asked to rate the importance of product attributes to consumer purchase decisions over the next five years, 200 auto executives polled in KPMG LLP’s 12th annual global automotive survey cited “fuel efficiency” most frequently (91 percent). Safety innovation was ranked second in importance (82 percent), then vehicle styling (77 percent), and then environmental friendliness (75 percent) in the poll conducted in October and November 2010.

4. MYTH: High mpg/low pollution car technology isn’t ready for prime time.

FACT: High MPG technologies are already here in the form of turbochargers, direct injection, dual-clutch transmissions, lighter materials, and stop-start technology.

Steven Plotkin, a researcher at Argonne National Laboratory, said many of the technologies for lowering carbon dioxide emissions are already available from the same manufacturers that had once declared them to be impossible.

Turbocharged four-cylinder engines, for example, can replace six-cylinder engines with no decline in performance and with reduced emissions. By 2015, as many as 25 percent of all light vehicles sold in the United States will be turbocharged, up from eight percent this year, predicts J.D. Power and Associates.

5. MYTH: High mpg car prices are too expensive for most consumers.

FACT: Higher mpg standards and related incentives will make fuel-efficient cars more, not less, affordable. New standards being considered by the Obama administration would decrease fuel consumption for new vehicles up to six percent per year from 2017 through 2025, which would boost average fuel efficiency up to about 60 mpg.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, this efficiency boost would cost about $3,200 per vehicle, which would be paid for in about four years through fuel savings. These standards would save vehicle owners $7,500 over the life of the vehicle at a gas price of $3.50 per gallon, even after paying for the additional cost of the cleaner vehicle. That’s the equivalent of a gasoline price cut of more than a $1 per gallon compared to a vehicle with today’s fuel efficiency.

Automakers argue those estimates are unrealistic and point to a Center for Automotive Research analysis in December showing that hiking fuel efficiency to 60 mpg could boost vehicle prices 22 percent, cut sales 25 percent and trim up to 220,000 auto sector jobs. But that analysis has been discredited by the International Center for Clean Technologies, which points out “basic technical errors” that undermine the credibility of the CAR study.

The cumulative effect of these errors, the ICCT analysis concludes, is to overstate increases in average vehicle cost and systematically underestimate fuel savings. ICCT said, “Simply correcting for factual and mathematical errors in the CAR forecast would show fuel savings exceeding costs in the first five years of owning a vehicle.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2011. All rights reserved.