President Barack Obama has his own idea of how to fix the auto industry, and part of that plan is to increase the federal fleet fuel consumption average to 35.5 MPG by 2016. The plan calls for incremental increases of 5% per year from 2012 to 2016, and the standard is nationalized, putting an end to the costly legal battle that California and several other states have been waging to use their own stricter MPG requirements. The plan will supposedly reduce domestic oil consumption by some 1.8 billion barrels, and for the first time the EPA will be required to measure the contaminants coming from a cars exhaust pipe.
Cars will be required to get an average of 42 mpg, and vehicles classified as trucks need to achieve just 26 mpg, only a 2 mpg bump over the current fleet average of 24. American companies will have the hardest time meeting these goals, especially with Chrysler bankrupt and GM teetering on the brink and both under de facto government control. Obama also wants to introduce tax incentives to buying these new green vehicles, as Americans have displayed time and again a preference for big, gas guzzling autos.
Personally, I feel like this initiative will take money and attention away from the development of alternative-energy vehicles as companies struggle to meet the mandate. This means a lot of cheap, tiny cars which American automakers struggle to make even the slimmest profits on. But more than that, politicians should not be allowed to make cars. Do you really want a politician deciding how much headroom you get?
According to Obama, “Everybody wins.” Well, everybody except the people who need or want a bigger car.