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The Politics of Fuel Economy

Posted by: David Welch on November 30, 2007

With Congress getting ready to head off for an unearned break, it looks like a compromise on fuel economy regs is near. Sure, all the car companies will have to build a fleet of vehicles that collectively gets 35 miles per gallon by 2020. But big suvs and trucks will still be treated separately. Details are scant. So it’s tough to say what the new regulations will force carmakers to do.

But let me just say that CAFÉ, or Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations, become less relevant when oil gets close to $100 a barrel like it has been recently. Even if oil and gasoline prices eventually comes back down to levels more that American consumers are more accustomed to (which is possible if you look at the long up-and-down history of fuel prices) carmakers simply have to have a model lineup that is prepared for days like this. So getting a company’s fleet average to 35 mpg or higher before 2020 may not just be mandated, it’s good business.

On a related note, the big car companies have started pandering to the Democrats while they have been lobbying for a lenient CAFÉ deal. Toyota does, too. Related? Yeah, I’d say so. The Detroit Three, who customarily have supported the Republicans, have tilted their campaign donations more toward the Democrats, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press, which cited the Center for Responsive Politics. It’s probably more than just CAFÉ, though. Detroit has gotten the bum’s rush from the Bush Administration during both terms. There has been no help on healthcare or trade and currency issues and the mix of high fuel prices and a weak economy have kept Detroit’s turnaround efforts in the mire. Maybe they want a change of pace. But the Motown executive suites haven’t swung completely blue. Individually, plenty of executives give to the Republicans. GM Chairman Rick Wagoner has given to Mitt Romney and Chrysler manufacturing boss Frank Ewasyshyn gave to John McCain. So they’re still buttering both sides.

Reader Comments


December 1, 2007 8:18 PM

This is a reply to Gail's question of whether or not I would even consider a visit to the local VW dealer if in search of a new car. THE ANSWER IS A RESOUNDING NO. Same as that if the question mentioned the Malibu, a very long time loser with a greed-driven Mother Company to match.

A long-running superlative reputation means a lot to me, and that both the VW and Chevrolet are hardly 'sterling' in this regard, or if so, in the eyes of the super-biased/semi-blind, so badly tarnished as to be beyond consideration. They are sucker's plays, and Lord HONDA knows there are folks out there ready and willing to buy for any number of reasons other than reliability, integrity, comfort, practicality, decent resale. You name it, HONDA has it. VW and Chevrolet jetisonned all of this some years back for whatever reasons. None are good enough.


December 1, 2007 9:03 PM

And yes, the practice of politics is thriving, as usual, and needless to say, 'The Name of the Game' in 'governing' is simply shoving the other side aside in thine own interests using whatever means that are available. And what a nasty shame! With so many sap-suckers out there fattening on our funds, just about all of us know one or more.

Politics is not about common sense or the common good, it is all very personal (as in getting re-elected at all costs), not to mention selfish to the max for reasons other than those relating to 'having a job'. THESE FOLKS ARE MOSTLY ATTORNEYS, and how much lower can one go other than used car sales-persons and tattoo 'artists'..

And so we have the UAW, the auto makers/steel makers/ rubber companies, etc., and then the oil folks, and those involved in highway maintenance (a joke here in CA), the EPA, IRS, FBI, CIA, FDA, TSA, FIMA, ACLU, CAIR, and AAOCRBN. (Amalgamated Association of Constantly Re-elected Bleeding Nitwits). And, again in CA, the Aire Resources Board of self-serving non-functional morons. Lots of UNION people with their fingers in the public navel of plenty. And let's not forget their perqs including health care, retirement bennies, etc. and so on. Not to mention many less than 8-hour days.

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Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Our man in Detroit David Welch, brings keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business.

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