Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Higher Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Standards: Contact Congress NOW to support them!

This week, Congress and the U.S. Senate are debating bills that would raise fuel efficiency standards to about 35mpg by 2020 (30mpg for small trucks and SUVs), then increase them by either 4% or 4mpg a year until 2030 (the details seem confused and may vary between the bills in the House and the Senate).

The important thing right now is that Americans express their demand for vehicles that get higher fuel efficiency. If you're a soccer mom who needs a station wagon to haul five kids around after practice, but needs to get at least 35 mpg in the city (and at least 45mpg on the highway) so as not to break the bank at the gas pump, you need to let your representative know so THIS WEEK!!

If you're interested in having it potentially run on 100% Biodiesel, as well as potentially being a plug-in hybrid (these things are not even close to being mutually exclusive, and would in fact complement one another quite nicely), mention this too!

This is where Congress can be made to work for you, to apply the necessary pressure to the automakers to accomplish these goals. Call the Congressional Switchboard at (202)224-3121 and your call will be forwarded to any member of Congress. I can't stress enough how much you need to do so this week, as automakers are in D.C. using the fear factor, telling Congress that they can't significantly improve mileage rates for their vehicles. As you may recall, this is the same industry that claimed that air bags, seat belts, anti-lock brakes and other safety devices would be too expensive to make standard in all cars. Fuel economy standards in Europe, however, are already above 40mpg, and many American automakers also make models for the European market. So it would seem that there is no real obstacle to meeting the proposed fuel efficiency standards for the United States. If anything, our goals are too low!

Furthermore, it can't hurt to remind the automakers themselves of your needs, even though they have an institutional bias against highly-fuel-efficient vehicles that is deeply rooted in politics, history, ego and pride. The more they hear from potential customers who just won't buy a gas-guzzler from them, and will continue to refuse to purchase a new vehicle from them until it gets better gas mileage, the more likely they will be to change their minds on this issue -- all other factors aside.

Contact information for some of the major automakers is here:

Ford: (800)392-FORD or Ford Motor Company, Customer Relationship Center, Box 6248, Dearborn, Mich. 48126.

GM/Saturn: (800) 553-6000 or Customer Assistance Center, 100 Saturn Parkway, Mail Drop 371-999-S24, Spring Hill, Tenn. 37174.

Nissan: (800) NISSAN-1 (800-647-7261) or Nissan Consumer Affairs, Box 685003, Franklin, Tenn. 37068-5003.

Mitsubishi: (888) MITSU2006 (800-648-7820) or Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., PO Box 6014, Cypress, Calif. 90630-0014.

Toyota: (800) 331-4331 or Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. 19001 South Western Ave. Dept. WC11, Torrance, Calif. 90501.

Phone calls would be a great way to start, but printed letters would be even better. My sense is that electronic inquiries (emails, etc.) are too easily ignored in such large bureaucracies as auto companies.

Please post your thoughts here, especially if you are inspired to make some calls and/or write some letters!



Chuck said...

Garlyn, I'm actually working with on this issue. Sure, there is no question we have to do something about global warming and the environment. But bad legislation is not the answer.

Automakers realize the need to providing consumers Alternative Fuel Automobiles. In fact, consumers are choosing these vehicles as today there are already 11 million Alternative Fuel Automobiles on the nation’s roadways. There are 60 models of alternative fuel vehicles on sale today, up from 12 in 2000 and many more models are planned for future production. Everyone wants more fuel efficient cars and people should have the option to vote with their wallets. Yet for someone who needs a truck with better performance or towing ability, they should have that option without Members of Congress taking that choice away from them. Thanks.

Garlynn Woodsong said...

Chuck, I think you're setting up a strawman argument here. I haven't seen any proof at all that these standards would limit the abilities of consumers to purchase work vehicles that could tow trailers. Certainly, these standards are already in effect in Europe, and I haven't heard any reports of a lack of work vehicles from across the pond (but please share them if you have heard such stories).

Indeed, I think that this legislation will lead to an option that is not currently available: fuel-efficient work vehicles that can also pull trailers!! I can't currently purchase a full-size truck with a 5,000 pound towing capacity that also gets 30mpg. This legislation would allow me to, by 2020. That's great! What farmer goes out to buy a vehicle and says "yeah, I want a truck that really sucks gas and can tow trailers too"? No. They want a truck that pulls trailers first, and they *accept* that it sucks gas because that's the only option available. They'd be happy to have higher fuel efficiency, too, if that was an option. If the trucks were diesel hybrids, they could deilver that efficiency level as well as those towing capabilities.

Furthermore, the speed limit for a vehicle towing a trailer on the interstate is 55mph. Exactly how much horsepower does it take to pull a 5,000-pound trailer at 55mph? I think this horsepower could be delivered by a diesel hybrid vehicle that achieved at *least* 30mph, unloaded.

And this technology is available today. What exactly is the complication that is so complex that automakers will need 19 years to sort it out? This nation was threatened by, geared up for, produced and won World War Two in under five years. We built a rocket system and used it to put a man on the moon in under ten years. I think we can solve this fuel efficiency challenge in ten years, too. And I'm not just talking about alternative fuels. I drive a biodiesel vehicle -- but that's not enough. If it were available, I would be driving a plug-in electric hybrid biodiesel vehicle. Alternative fuels are not the only solution -- they need to be coupled with higher mandated fuel efficiency standards.

So, that's why I say your argument is a straw man argument, Chuck. You're setting up consumer demand for performance vehicles as a straw man to burn to throw a bad light on this legislation. But, just like seat belts and automobile safety, it just isn't so, Chuck.

But thanks for commenting!


Chuck said...

Garlynn, it's not a straw man argument because I wasn't opposing the concept of improved technology and more efficient vehicles, merely bad legislation, H.R. 6, as initially proposed. Like I said in my first comment, of course everyone wants the most efficient automobile possible.

A much better and bipartisan alternative that the group I'm working with, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, supports is the Pryor-Levin-Bond-Voinovich amendment. Regarding CAFE standards, this bill has aggressive but achievable mandatory fuel economy standards; 30 percent ramp up of fuel economy standards to at least 36 mpg for cars by 2022 and at least 30 mpg for trucks by 2025.

Additionally, it increases funding for R & D for cellulosic ethanol and biofuels as well as advanced batteries, plug-in hybrids, clean diesel, diesel hybrids and flex fuel hybrids, as well as hydrogen storage and fuel cell technology.

Thanks for your response.

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guido said...

If people are asking for higher mileage cars, why has the highest mileage car sold in the USA(Honda Insight) been discontinued as has the Honda Accord hybrid?

Andi said...

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