Public supports fuel-economy regulations, including Trump voters


Regardless of political persuasion, there are some issues almost everyone can agree on.

One of them, for example, is likely gas prices.

It's hard to imagine anyone who enjoys paying more every time they fill up their car.

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Which might explain the results of a recent phone poll by the Consumer Federation of America on the subject of fuel-economy standards.

Conducted last December, the poll found that two-thirds of respondents who said they voted for Donald Trump support strong fuel-economy standards, as did four-fifths of Hillary Clinton voters.

Two-thirds of independent voters who lean Republican also expressed support for strong fuel-economy standards.

U.S. Capitol Building

U.S. Capitol Building

Enlarge Photo

This reinforces the trend of "more than a dozen" public opinion polls conducted over the last decade, in which about three-quarters of Americans supported fuel-economy regulations, CFA research director Mark Cooper said in a statement.

While the CFA poll indicates bipartisan support for fuel-economy standards from car buyers, automakers are not as enthusiastic about them.

Mitch Bainwol, head of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers lobbying group, has said the cost of compliance with upcoming efficiency standards could "put new vehicles out of financial reach of the average new-car purchaser."

ALSO SEE: Gas has to cost $3 a gallon before it affects vehicle choice, study says

But the CFA contends that the Alliance has overestimated the cost of compliance by assuming that automotive technology won't advance past a 2014 benchmark.

In the facing of booming SUV sales, critics of current standards have also argued that said standards will force automakers to build cars consumers don't want.

While Ford plans to launch 13 new hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric cars by 2020, CEO Mark Fields said in an interview last month that there is no real market for those vehicles.

Fuel gauge

Fuel gauge

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Emissions standards should be lowered to reflect that, Fields indicated, saying that standards would be among the topics Ford planned to address in meetings with the Trump administration.

A July Technical Assessment Report issued by the EPA and other regulators found that automakers could meet existing national emission standards primarily by further improving the efficiency of internal-combustion engines.

Large numbers of hybrids and plug-in electric cars would not be necessary to meet the standards, the report said.

MORE: Carmakers howl about CAFE rules, but regularly beat them; why?

Automakers also have a good track record of meeting efficiency standards.

They beat Corporate Average Fuel Economy targets for the 2015 model year (the most recent with available data), the fourth year in a row that they had exceeded government standards.

Of over 1,100 2017 models certified by the EPA, less than 1 percent are rated under 16 mpg, the CFA notes.

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