Report: Freezing Efficiency Standards Will Hike Fuel Costs

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August 9, 2019—President Trump’s plan to freeze U.S. vehicle efficiency standards would hike costs for motorists without doing anything to boost highway safety, according to an analysis by Consumer Reports, reports Transit Topics.

Just as the analysis came out, the Trump Administration has been reviewing a final draft of a plan to ease vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards, even as pressure heightens from automakers and California to oppose the plan.

Last year, the administration proposed cutting off fuel economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emission standards at 2020 levels, instead of allowing the standards to rise annually with existing regulations. The plan also calls for stripping California of its authority to regulate tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions.

The Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency argued their proposal would reduce the cost of new vehicles and will urge motorists to trade in older models for newer, safer vehicles, saving as many as 1,000 lives annually. The agencies also estimated the plan would spare motorists $2,340 in average new vehicle ownership costs.

However, the Consumer Reports analysis disagrees with these claims. Consumer Reports argues instead that “the effects on safety from changes in fuel-economy standards are quite small and likely not statistically different from zero.”

The Consumer Reports als analysis highlighted the importance of fuel savings, rather than vehicle purchase prices.

“The rollback is like a gas tax because it increases drivers’ fuel costs,” said Consumer Reports.

The proposed policy change would add an additional 63 cents per gallon of gasoline for owners of model year 2026 vehicles. Over the life of that 2026 vehicle, the administration’s preferred policy choice would translate to an additional $3,300, the analysis found. The owners of trucks and sport utility vehicles would be especially hard hit, according to the assessment.

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