We have touched on this subject in previous posts. Lost in the busy news week last week was an important story for the auto industry. The Obama administration just unveiled that they are mandating new fuel efficiency standards for automobiles that will raise the standards to require a much higher 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025. This is nearly double the current level. These standards are known as the CAFE standards (Corporate Average Fuel Economy). The administration contends that this will not only decrease emissions, but will also help save drivers many dollars in fuel each year.
2025 may seem like a long way off, but some critics claim that these standards are unrealistic and will place a burden on auto makers as well as consumers. Estimates are that it will increase the price of a new car dramatically, as well as decrease safety. One of the ways automakers can meet these standards is to manufacture smaller, lighter vehicles, which means they are sacrificing safety. The NHTSA, (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has concerns that smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles will lead to increased injuries and fatalities during accidents. Due to increasing fuel efficiency requirements, some experts attribute 2500 more fatalities each year because of smaller, less safe cars that sacrifice safety because of less steel.
Critics argue that the market should dictate such standards. If the cost of fuel causes consumers to steer toward more fuel efficient cars, then that is the capitalist market working as it should without government meddling.
What do you think? Should the government step in and require higher standards? And how high is too high?