A new Consumers Union survey shows that despite falling fuel prices, public support for increased fleet fuel economy is strong.
The survey shows that 53 percent of Americans expect that fuel economy will be improved with their next vehicle purchase and that 84 percent believe carmakers should continue to work to improve fuel economy across all vehicle types and classes.
The timing here is notable, as regulators at both state and federal levels are reviewing the 2022-2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to see if they should be changed or maintained. Seventy-five percent of survey respondents said that they believe that following the CAFE plan of bringing the standard from today’s 25 mpg to the planned 40 mpg by 2025 is a worthy goal.
Survey respondents were unified across demographic lines, and there wasn’t much division among the two major political parties, either.
When asked which attribute of their current vehicle could be most improved, 32 percent said fuel economy, which was the most for all characteristics. Even the specter of a higher sticker price didn’t faze respondents, as 60 percent said that they’d be willing to pay more up front for higher fuel economy, if the costs could be recouped within five years.
There wasn’t much worry that higher standards would hurt the industry. Sixty-four percent said they thought higher standards would strengthen the industry, while 73 percent of those who live in states with heavy auto production felt the industry could improve fuel economy and still maintain a high level of sales. Fifty-eight percent of residents in the auto-producing states felt that improving fuel economy would mean the creation of more industry jobs.
Finally, survey respondents identified the most fuel-efficient brands as also producing the “best” vehicles, while saying that the brands with the lowest fuel economy were among those producing the “worst” vehicles.