The EPA is preparing another massive hike in the federal government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard. This rule mandates that vehicles sold in America get a certain number of miles per gallon.
The Obama administration has issued a directive that the CAFE standard, currently at 35mpg, be increased dramatically over the next decade and the EPA is complying, to the chagrin of the American consumer.
At the Washington Examiner they’re calling this the individual mandate for Chevy Volts:
The new rule — issued in response to a 2010 Obama directive, not to specific legislation passed by Congress — would require automakers to achieve a 40.9 mpg CAFE average by 2021 and 54.5 mpg by 2025. In case you’re wondering whatever happened to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it has been supplanted in the CAFE process by the EPA. The proposed regulation was designed, according to the EPA, “to preserve consumer choice — that is, the proposed standards should not affect consumers’ opportunity to purchase the size of vehicle with the performance, utility and safety features that meets their needs.” But the reality is that consumer choice will be the first victim.
Getting from the current 35 mpg CAFE standard to 54.5 can be achieved by such expedients as making air conditioning systems work more efficiently. We have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell to anybody who thinks that’s even remotely realistic. There is one primary method of increasing fuel economy — weight reduction. That in turn means automakers will have to use much more exotic materials, including especially the petroleum-processing byproduct known as “plastic.” But using more plastic will make it much more difficult to satisfy current federal safety standards. The bottom-line will be much more expensive vehicles and dramatically fewer kinds of vehicles.
The average price of a new vehicle will go up at least $3,200, according to NHTSA, but experts outside government such as the National Automobile Dealers Association say the cost will be substantially higher. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that there will be no vehicles costing $15,000 or less, the segment of the market that college students and low-income consumers depend upon. Altogether, an estimated seven million buyers will be forced out of the market for new cars.
It seems that, in our modern economy, the most important factor in manufacturing is not pleasing the consumers by giving them what they want but complying with government regulations born of the ideas politicians have for what consumers should want.
Which kind of makes you wonder if we’re still a free country when we can’t buy the kind or car we want. Or the kind of light bulb we want. Etc., etc.