And so the battle begins.
It's no secret that Donald Trump and the EPA are not friends, but as we've recently learned, automakers are trying to take advantage of the strained relationship by petitioning our commander-in-chief to remove the EPA's strict fuel economy standards, potentially saving them billions in research and development money. However, it appears that consumer groups around the US don't agree with the automakers and have sat down to pen a letter asking Trump to preserve the EPA's fuel economy standards.
Currently, the EPA is asking automakers to raise the number of miles per gallon in the average vehicle to 54.5 mpg by 2025. While it's unclear whether or not automakers will actually hit that mark, especially given the recent uptick in SUV sales, analysts claim that we'll at least be able to push past a 50 mpg average by the goal date. Last week, 18 automakers petitioned Trump, attempting to appeal to his pro-business stance in order to roll back fuel economy standards. The only issue is that even if President Trump tried to do so, it would be an uphill battle given that the Obama White House spent its last weeks locking in the EPA standard and making it hard to repeal.
Still, it's plausible for Trump to find a loophole or chip away at the law's teeth, enabling automakers to slacken their forced resolve. The Consumer's Union and the Consumer Federation of America feel that this would hurt American drivers and sent a letter to Trump pleading him to keep the laws in place. In the letter, which was sent to us by Consumer Reports, a publication of Consumer's Union, the two organizations cite the EPA's efforts in helping consumers spend less of their budget on gas, which frees up more money to be spent on domestic goods that bolster local economies. Fuel prices are currently low, but even so, owners of gas guzzlers must spend a considerable amount of cash filling up.
If another fuel crisis were to roll around, both consumers and automakers would be left vulnerable if there were fleets of gas-guzzling vehicles roaming the streets or lingering unsold in dealerships lots. The letter cited the fact that consumers would save $3,200 per car and $4,800 per truck over the life of the vehicle if it adheres to 2025 emissions standards. "Rolling back the standards will rob consumers of these savings, providing them with less expendable income. For families struggling to cover basic needs, this would be an added burden. Improving fuel efficiency in cars and trucks not only saves money today, but help provide families with a bit of insurance against future gas price increases," claims the letter.
We have yet to see how the White House will respond to both pleas, but our bets are going with Trump taking the deregulation route.