Report: Foreign Automakers Got Raw Deal in New Fuel-Economy Rules

By Kelsey Mays  on August 9, 2012

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Next Wednesday, expect the federal government to unveil final corporate average fuel economy rules for 2017 through 2025. The latest CAFE requirements took more than a year to finalize and will require combined EPA city/highway mileage in the high 30s by 2025 versus the low 20s today.

But new criticisms have formed over how the rulings came about.

The Republican-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a report alleging the Obama administration "openly played automakers off of each other to gain a tactical advantage over the industry," the Detroit News reports. The latest CAFE proposal forces Americans to drive "expensive, unpopular and unsafe" cars mandated by the administration, the report added.

Democrats fired back: "Allegations that the White House is seeking to weaken the auto industry are simply ridiculous," U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) told the Detroit News. The White House maintains the deal will cost the auto industry $157.3 billion but save drivers $1.7 trillion.

Corporate average fuel economy rules grant separate mileage ratings to cars versus trucks. Automakers also can earn credits for certain technologies and exemptions for certain vehicles. The report said foreign-owned automakers expressed frustration but ultimately acquiesced to the deal. According to the Detroit News:

  • Detroit's full-size trucks received an exemption that freed them from fuel-economy increases during part of the 2017-2025 ramp up, and Toyota wanted the Tundra to receive the same exemptions. But the rules excluded Toyota's pickup truck from the exemption.
  • German automakers wanted more credits for diesel cars but received none. Daimler, parent to Mercedes and Smart, ultimately opposed the new CAFE rules, as did Volkswagen.
  • Hybrid pickups — but not other cars — received CAFE bonuses, which is something Honda and Toyota questioned. Two hybrid pickups exist, and both are GMs.

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Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price.  Email Kelsey


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