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I came across a very interesting editorial in Car and Driver magazine (Feb. '08 edition) regarding the new CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) Standards. Unfortunately they don't have it archived on their site just yet, but this gist is that by regulating the auto-makers to force them to increase fuel efficiency from 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.5 mpg for trucks to 35 mpg for both, we're going after the wrong group.

 

His basic thesis is that we're avoiding forcing Americans to change their behavior in any way and instead just passing the buck to the auto makers. We already have many cars on the market that get more than 35 mpg, but they are in the minority as far as what consumers are purchasing because it is not prohibitively expensive to operate an SUV that gets 20 mpg. Further, getting a truck to use 35 mpg is hard and will likely be VERY expensive. In his words, "a linebacker eats more than a jockey" and enabling that linebacker to do the same job with less food is a tough engineering project.

 

His suggested solution is greater taxation on gasoline and other fossil fuels so that consumer demand for high efficiency vehicles causes the shift, not government legislation. It has worked in Europe where gasoline is nearly 2 times as expensive as in the US and the average fuel economy is 40 mpg; all driven by consumer demand for efficient cars, without limiting consumers' freedom of choice.

 

After reading this I felt like a lot of laws address the symptoms rather than the underlying problems. What does everyone else think?