Consumer Reports Finds Overwhelming Support for Higher Fuel Economy Standards

When House Oversight Committee chair Darrel Issa opened his investigation into the new proposed 54.5-mpg Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard last month, a main narrative of those testifying in opposition to the standard centered around the perceived adverse impacts the rule might have on drivers. “Up until now, consumers have been either ignored or misrepresented,” said Edmunds CEO Jeremy Anwyl in his testimony to the committee. “At the end of the day, they are the ones who will be asked to buy and drive the vehicles our government is potentially demanding the car companies build.”

But those who take up the mantle of fighting higher fuel efficiency in the name of consumers may want to pay a little more attention to evidence of what the public actually wants from its future vehicles and less to what groups like the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers say it wants.

According to a new study from the Consumer Reports National Research Center a whopping 93 percent of car owners would like to see higher fuel economy standards. When asked if they supported current specific plans to raise fleet averages to 35 mpg by 2016 and 55 mpg by 2025, 86 percent and 80 percent said they did, respectively. And though CAFE opponents have long predicted a consumer revolt if vehicle costs rise as a result of the mandate, Consumer Reports found that 83 percent of car owners are willing to pay extra in exchange for added fuel economy.

In fact, despite the extra initial cost of most hybrids and all plug-in electric vehicles, more than half of respondents said they will to consider a hybrid or electric vehicle for their next purchase. An overwhelming 72 percent said they would consider a hybrid or plug-in if they were to become more available in the next 15 years―a likely outcome of rising CAFE standards. Sixty-four percent said that their next purchase will be more fuel-efficient, while 40 percent say their next car will get “much better gas mileage.”

Consumers want more efficient cars, and while this isn’t the first study to prove it, Consumer Reports’ findings come at a time when CAFE and other federal measures to encourage fuel economy are under attack.


  • Charles

    I expect my next car to meet the 2025 standard of 40 EPA sticker MPG. I know it will cost me more to get to that level of efficiency, but it is well worth it.

  • AP

    Just remember that consumers are very fickle. After each fuel scare, everyone gets religion, only to lose it as soon as they get used to fuel prices.

    As for wanting more fuel economy, who wouldn’t? The question is whether the consumer will be willing to pay the REAL cost of the increased technology, rather than have the government (i.e., we taxpayers) pick up the tab. Greece, Italy, and the rest of the Eurozone have shown the government can’t spend on every important project.

    I’m willing to invest in a vehicle to save fuel. It’s incredible how few other people really are.

  • Stan Smart

    After working in the “consumer survey” field for 40+ years I can say that what people tell you in a survey and what actually “happens” is usually 180-degrees opposite!

    For example it’s “politically correct” to listen to NPR, about 40-45% of the 18+ population say they do … In reality, that figure is less than 4%.

  • Stan Smart

    After working in the “consumer survey” field for 40+ years I can say that what people tell you in a survey and what actually “happens” is usually 180-degrees opposite!

    For example it’s “politically correct” to listen to NPR, about 40-45% of the 18+ population say they do … In reality, that figure is less than 4%.

  • City Slicker

    I want more MPG, but not at a substantially higher price to get it. I will admit, I am green if it can save me money, even if it takes a some time for the ROI to payoff. I am not “green” if it costs a lot more money to be “green”. But if you asked me, “Do you want more MPG?” who wouldn’t respond ‘Yes’. It is a loaded question. It leaves out, HOW MUCH is it going to cost, what is my range, and how much power will it have? Depending on THOSE answers, will depend on whether I would vote yes or no.

  • James Davis

    In conjunction with oil companies, and no one will deny this fact, auto makers have been discouraging higher MPGs for decades. Small light cars get better MPG than Earth Moving Vehicles – that’s a fact, but when automakers present us with a small light car, they are usually frightfully ugly and double the price of an Earth Mover and takes them about an hour to get from 0 to 60.

    Most people really do only need a two-seater with a large trunk, but automakers seem not to have the knowledge in how to build one and people will not buy it if it is so ugly that they are embarrassed to be seen getting into it or its cost is double the price of an F150 that gets 17 MPG and 0 to 60 in 45 minutes.

    Do I want a vehicle with higher MPG that meets my needs…who wouldn’t, but I do not want to pay double the price for half the car that only meets half my needs.

  • Curly

    To get the public support for the more fuel efficient cars do as Europe has done and raise taxes on motor fuel. In Europe the government collects over 75% of the price of motor fuel depending on the country. At about $1 to %1.50 per liter (or $4-$6 per gallon) the public would be more supportive of the higher fuel requirements and be willing to pay for the cost. Complain, yes. Pay, yes.

  • Bill Leavens

    My wife has been thoroughly enjoying our 1999 VW diesel Beetle since the day we brought it home. The thing normally returns about 47 mpg and I saw 51 mpg on an extended drive from New Jersey to Cincinnati. It’s fun to drive and it never breaks. Aside from looking extremely dorky, it has been a perfect car. We have ordered a diesel 2012 Beetle in part because it looks so cool and for the technological improvements. Hope it does as well as ol Blue did. 54.5 mpg? Piece of cake with current technology so long as you don’t have to drive a lumbering oaf of a vehicle. Hybrids? Why bother to lug around all those batteries?

  • Shine

    I like to have a electric or hybrid car. Why? Because they can conserve energy use.

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  • pejo

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  • Camren P.

    The need for conservation of fuel by using fuel efficient engines has to start developing now before it kind of gets late.
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