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Most Consumers Support 60 mpg Car, Light Truck Fuel Economy Standard

September 29, 2010
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WASHINGTON-As the Obama Administration considers a new car and light truck fuel economy standard for 2025, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) released findings of a recent national survey that show most Americans support adoption of a 60 mile per gallon standard. This finding was one of several related to American attitudes toward oil consumption and motor vehicle fuel economy standards.

  • Nearly three-fifths (59%) agreed that the federal government should require all automobile companies to increase the fuel economy of their motor vehicle fleets to an average of 60 miles per gallon by 2025.
  • Three-quarters (75%) said they would be prepared to pay more for a new, more fuel-efficient car if they recovered the additional expense through lower fuel costs within one year. And over three-fifths (62%) said they would pay more if they recovered this additional cost within five years.

    This support for higher standards and willingness to pay more for a car appear to reflect fundamental concerns about the nation's dependence on oil and oil imports and the view that higher standards would help, not hurt, the U.S. auto industry.

  • A large majority of Americans is concerned about gasoline prices over the next five years (73%) and U.S. dependency on Mid-Eastern oil (73%).
  • Moreover, not only do more than three-quarters of Americans (77%) believe that if U.S. auto companies significantly increased the fuel economy of their cars and trucks, over the long run this would help the country, with only 9% thinking this would hurt; but also three-fifths (60%) of Americans think that this increase in fuel economy would over the long run make U.S. auto companies more profitable, with only 13% disagreeing.

    The survey was conducted for CFA by the Opinion Research Corporation on September 9-12, 2010. ORC surveyed a representative sample of 1,007 adult Americans. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points. The ORC survey data are available to press on request.

    "This new survey data not only indicate that consumers want more fuel-efficient vehicles, but they are willing to pay more at the onset for them," said Jack Gillis CFA Director of Public Affairs and author of The Car Book.

    CFA incorporated the survey findings in an issue brief entitled "Public Support for a 60 Mile Per Gallon Fuel Economy Standard" that shows why such a standard by 2025 is technically feasible and cost-neutral or cost-positive to consumers.

    Based on studies by MIT and the National Academy of Science, CFA analyses found that the 60 mile per gallon standard would easily meet a payback period that the majority of respondents to the poll deemed to be acceptable.

  • Consumers who use a five-year loan to finance their fuel-efficient vehicle purchase will save more money on gas in the first month than the additional cost of fuel efficiency, making the purchase cash-positive in the first month.

    "The Obama Administration has the opportunity to dramatically change the pace of improvement in fuel economy by setting a high, long-term standard for fuel economy," said Mark Cooper, CFA's director of research and author of the report. "A 60 mile per gallon fleet by 2025 is technically and economically feasible without lowering performance. And consumers are demanding it."
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