Imagine yourself driving down the road in 14 years. Do you picture yourself in an SUV, a hybrid/electric compact vehicle or perhaps a flying car like we talked about 15 years ago? New legislation may makeAmerica’s big SUVs a thing of the past and bring us one step closer to that flying car we all have dreamed of.
The Obama administration and the auto industry are up against the clock in determining the new vehicle mileage and emissions standards that will have a dramatic effect on the vehicles of tomorrow, but at what cost? Is our current economy and the automotive industry strong enough for this challenge? According to a recent article in The Detroit News, Governor Snyder and 14 other governors warned the administration that auto jobs could be at risk if fuel efficiency regulations for 2025 are too stringent.
"If fuel economy standards are increased too quickly, resulting in more expensive vehicles, many consumers can be expected to hold onto their older vehicles longer and defer buying a new car, which could put auto jobs across the country at risk," the governors said in a letter to the heads of the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. The governors urged a "sensible" increase in fuel efficiency requirements.
Is 56.2 MPG by 2025 sensible? The proposed new standard would nearly double the current level, but we need to be aware of all sides of the issue. According to a recent New York Times article, automakers say the standard is technically achievable, but warn it will cost billions of dollars to develop. The industry seems to also believe that Americans will not be willing to trade in their current gas guzzler to purchase a smaller, lighter and more expensive vehicle.
The U.S. auto industry continues to be compared to countries such as Europe, China and Japan who are already on track to meet this standard. Europe is expected to reach 60 MPG by 2020. The U.S. may have one of the world’s most lenient vehicle emissions and mileage standards, but it’s important to remember that we also have some of the highest safety standards in the world. These safety restrictions are often some of the main culprits when it comes to adding weight to vehicles, therefore decreasing fuel economy.
Come September we will see just how quickly the U.S. auto industry will have to move. The new standards would certainly change the future of our vehicles here in the U.S., let’s just hope it’s not at the expense of our already weakened economy.
-- Deana Goodrich is a senior account executive at Airfoil Public Relations, a high-tech PR agency with offices in Detroit and Silicon Valley.