American drivers could not be more pleased with the recent dip in gas prices, but the same cannot be said for automakers. Now, several companies are worried that the government’s stringent fuel economy standards will be difficult to meet due to new consumer trends.
According to The New York Times, the federal government outlined new fuel economy standards for auto manufacturers five years ago, which included meeting a target of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. As part of these new standards, the government established a formula in which car makers can earn “emission credits” by improving certain features on their vehicles.
While manufacturers have been able to keep up with the new rules thus far, many believe that reaching 54.5 miles per gallon in the next 10 years is almost impossible. With a midterm review of federal fuel economy regulations beginning this summer, some companies have asked for the formula to be adjusted.
“Now they are complying, but they are worried that in the future, the climb gets much steeper,” said Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
The changes proposed by automakers include extending the time frame on mileage targets, in addition to granting emission credits for ancillary improvements such as automatic braking and autonomous driving. Manufacturers say that these changes will make it easier for them to meet the government’s tough demands for fuel economy.
“We think the government needs to start thinking outside of the box and not just look at the traditional ways of reducing greenhouse gases,” Bergquist added.
Another major problem facing automakers today is the recent plunge in gas prices. Manufacturers have been rushing to create and market fuel-efficient vehicles for over a decade, but now that gas prices are so low, consumers do not see the need to invest in a fuel-efficient car.
Additionally, there are several other ways that drivers can improve their vehicle’s fuel economy on their own. A proper tune-up can improve gas mileage by up to 4%, and the internet has made it quite easy for consumers to learn other gas-saving tips.
As Fox Business reported, Americans are currently enjoying the lowest gas prices in 12 years. During the first quarter of 2016, the average price of gas in the U.S. was just $1.86 per gallon, marking the cheapest three-month period for gas prices since 2004.
Hybrid vehicles are now sitting untouched in dealer showrooms, and manufacturers are scrambling to keep up with the changing times. The advanced technology they’ve been working on for decades, which helps to meet federal regulations, is now almost unusable.
“Auto companies are producing more trucks and fewer cars,” said Daniel Becker, director of the advocacy group Safe Climate Campaign. “But they are failing to use their best technology, like turbocharging and stop-start, throughout their fleets.”