Fuel Efficient Cars? Sure, Twenty-five Years Ago. But Automakers Just Can’t Manage It Now.

John Donnelly’s got a big front-page article in the Globe today about the Congressional debate on increasing the gasoline efficiency of automobiles.

Two bills are up for discussion:

Representative Edward J. Markey… is sponsoring a bill that calls for a 35-miles-per-gallon standard by 2019. Another House bill, endorsed by more than 40 Democrats and 60 Republicans and backed by much of the auto industry, calls for a standard of at least 32 miles per gallon for cars and trucks by 2022.


The automakers’ bucks go far indeed when they’re paying for politicians.

Two decades ago, government analysts informed Congress in three reports that technology existed to produce cars that could achieve an average of up to 45 to 50 miles per gallon by 1995, if Congress chose to adopt higher fuel economy standards.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Congressional Budget office showed that high mileage technology was available, in reports done in 1979 and 1980.

Here’s the kicker:

Automobile industry officials, in interviews, agree that such technology exists, but said consumers would pay much more for those vehicles and would sacrifice safety features.

Do they mean safety features like air-conditioned gloveboxes?

No. What they mean is that to make high-mileage vehicles they would have to forego the hefty profits they make off the heavy, inefficient pieces of iron they sell now. They want to make their profits safe, and the country and the environment be damned.

Had Congress enacted legislation back then, fleet fuel economy for cars and trucks could have reached an average of 37 to 42 miles per gallon in the 1990s.

But in 1985 the Carter Administration caved in to the fat cats in Detroit, refusing to call for an increase in standards when the boys in Detroit objected.

Along came Ronnie Raygun, who opposed any increase in mileage standards and tried to roll back other environmental initiatives.

Republicans in the White House and in Congress, supported by key Democrats from auto-industry states, successfully stalled efforts to increase the standards for cars, while increasing the standard for light trucks by just 5 miles per gallon over the last 28 years.

As usual, the Republicans want to have it both ways. They, with help from key Democrats, want to keep their fat cat automaker friends happy and the money flowing into Republican coffers and pockets, while ginning up a war for oil to keep their fat cat oil friends happy.

Remember that the next time you read about dead American soldiers in the Middle East and South Asia.

Remember that the next time you see a picture of a dead Iraqi child.

They died to make a few sociopathic Americans rich.


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