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Tiffany Traynum’s Blog

Fuel Efficiency Ushers in a "New" Golden Age of Clean Drivers

Tiffany Traynum

Posted August 30, 2012 in Moving Beyond Oil

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I wouldn’t call myself a car lover necessarily. At least not compared to someone I know - my father. I grew up knowing that his love for the automobile was something deep and long lasting. His prized possession—a shiny golden1971 Corvette—was practicallyCorvette.bmp
considered to be one my siblings (and would have been welcomed at the dinner table if physically possible I’m sure). Yes my dad loved his Corvette, and because I loved my dad so much, I loved it too. The Corvette was kept in the garage, under a car cover, was washed and waxed religiously and even had a vanity plate that read TNT(both my father’s and my initials). It was then that I discovered the magic of owning four wheels, the pride of having a beaut (beauty) sparkling in the sunshine, and the intoxicating  sensation of both feeling and hearing the reverberating roar of that engine.

Needless to say, when I got my first car at the age of 16 I was thrilled. It was important to my parents that I had something economical (boring), but it was important to me that I had something pretty with the performance I had become accustomed to. Talk about impossible. I settled on a 1991 Honda sedan. A girl just couldn’t have it all in those days. Especially not anything Corvette-like.

In the years that followed, I rode that Honda into the ground. It was not a glamorous ride, but that car was good on gas and lasted practically forever. I had always felt, however; that I sacrificed power and beauty for practicality. As I grew up and away from my father, my love and excitement of cars virtually diminished. But I am happy to say that lately there has been a whole lot to get excited about when it  comes to new cars; and it’s all because of two little words sweeping the nation—fuel efficiency.

The Obama administration has embraced mandatory fuel regulations for all vehicles. And on Tuesday, August 28th, Obama issued new cars rules that require auto manufacturers to increase the average efficiency of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The excitement has been mounting; as it should! Thus far, these new standards have set something in motion that’s not only creating some serious change and opportunity; but dare I say it--bringing the economy back?

Not according to some. Clean car rules have been under attack by the House of Representatives gunning  for a bill that imposes a moratorium on issuing basically any new regulations as long as unemployment remains above 6%, regardless of support for them; meaning, fuel efficiency standards for vehicles will be blocked. Naysayer’s criticize that they come at the expense of consumer safety. According to GOP Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, “The process followed by Obama administration officials to develop these standards was politicized, not rooted in sound science and was a political end run around seasoned experts who are required by law to lead the process.” All excuses in my opinion. In fact, the science has already shown that fuel standards work for America.

Since the new clean cars standards where announced in July 2011, life has been brought back into our economy. Particularly, the auto industry has stepped up; not only because they are working towards achieving 54.4 mpg standards, but because the consumer, the main force driving the fuel efficiency bus, has demanded it. A reported 236,000 jobs auto jobs are being added to the workforce, along with 500 facilities in 43 states that manufacture components and technology that contribute to fuel economy improvements. 2012 has broken the record in new car sales (fuel efficient subcompacts in the lead). Auto makers like Ford and Volkswagen are accelerating deployment of its fuel efficient, hybrid and electric vehicles. Honda and Nissan are currently hiring with plans to double their workforce by 2025; and companies Continental and Chrysler—just to name a few—are working to steadily improve electrification and other fuel saving technologies.

Engineers at Nexteer are receiving major kudos for developing new fuel saving technologies such as their electric power steering system that helps to deliver up to 6% fuel savings.  There’s BorgWarner Inc. too, a supplier benefiting big time as a top maker of turbochargers, direct injection, stop-start equipment, eight-speed transmissions and many other systems that save fuel.

So yes, regardless of criticisms, fuel standards are making waves. Car manufacturer Hyundai recently petitioned to declare August Fuel Efficiency Month; and I even saw a cartoon citing a “study” that American’s get 41 mpg on average based on the 22 gallons of beer we consume each year! See how fuel efficient we are?

I almost feel 16 again. I’m about due for a new car and this time I won’t have to compromise. Thanks to these standards, fuel efficiency now equals fun. Consumer demand and friendly competition from car makers mean more economic, stylish, safe, and well-performing options (in all sizes) to choose from than ever before.

When I turned 18 my dad finally let me drive his Corvette. I felt like I had waited for that car my whole life. I asked him recently what he thought of the proposed efficiency standards and if he would ever purchase a—dare I say it—hybrid or electric vehicle. His answer didn’t surprise me. He said, “Sure, I would add one to my fleet”. Meaning, he’s not sure that a fuel efficient or hybrid vehicle can deliver a Corvette-like performance. That’s my dad for you; loyal to the end. But he also said that right now is perhaps the most exciting time for cars. “The competition amongst car manufacturers has led to amazing innovations—great gas mileage with even more power!"

All that being said, it’s hard to debate why these standards would be a bad thing. Certainly, you can ask the auto technician that just got a full-time job and he or she will tell you they’re not. Fuel efficiency standards are restoring faith in our economy and our faith in Washington. These standards are a win for environmentalists and car enthusiasts everywhere! I know this girl’s geared up and strapped in. You tell me…are you ready to ride?

45.5 MPG Creates Jobs.JPG

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Comments

Dianne R CarterAug 31 2012 06:16 PM

Cars run in your family on your mom's side too. I often wonder what grandad would have said about such fuel efficiency numbers. My next car WILL be some type of alternative fuel choice. When I get it I will come and take you for a ride, :)

Betty WoodsAug 31 2012 09:32 PM

What a timely article; i am considering purchasing a new car. Fuel for though, a fuel efficient auto will save on fuel, help the economy what a win win. Great article.

Betty

Melissa SmithSep 2 2012 11:49 AM

I enjoyed this article! It especially is exciting because I am looking for a new car soon and now I will start paying more attention to details like gas mileage.

Twyman N.TraynumSep 3 2012 10:48 PM

EXCELLENT WRITE UP! Yes that Vett was very special and I just might buy it back someday.

Like I told you when we talked, I feel the Government is not being realistic when they issue a mandate of 54.5 MPG by 2025. Watch for the revision in the next ten years. They will be happy with 44.5 when the time grows near. Keep up the good work!

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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