Will there be one fuel standard to rule them all? Ford CEO Alan Mulally certainly hopes so, and he's letting Washington know. As manufacturers spend time and money pushing to reach established Corporate Average Fuel Economy goals, some states are looking to set their own rules. That could prove to be a tricky – and hugely expensive – proposition for the automakers.

We know we said "some states," but you all know the one we're talking about. California is (once again) considering the idea of setting its own average fuel economy rules starting in 2017, and the federal government is (once again) considering letting them. Currently, California and the federal government agree that fleet-wide fuel efficiency will be required to hit 34.1 miles per gallon starting in 2012, a figure that runs through 2016.

As part of a visit to D.C. this week, Mulally told House members and Bill Daley, White House Chief of Staff (among others), that he wants the government to step up and standardize fuel economy and emissions rules, which would prevent states from breaking out their own guidelines.


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  • 61 Comments
      Hazdaz
      • 4 Years Ago
      I completely agree with Mulally on this... it is better to have ONE standard - EVEN IF IT IS MORE STRICT - than having a ton of different ones no matter how big the state is. That just adds needless extra work for automakers, as well as states with little real benefit. But this goes beyond just mileage... let the Feds set emissions and safety rules and possibly even go one step farther with that. Try to get multiple countries (like the US and Japan and the nations of the EU) to have one set of safety requirements for cars. That would save these car makers (and presumably consumers) a TON of money.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        [blocked]
      JonnyO
      • 4 Years Ago
      What Mulally is asking for makes sense. It also makes sense is to establish a national standard for the blends of gasoline being used. Currently this can be specified all the way down at the municipal level, forcing refiners to create more varieties. This is pure overhead, and it adds 15-20 cents per gallon to the price we pay at the pump.
      EB110Americana
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm from California (I vote regularly) and I agree with Mulally. Having a unique standard for California makes no sense by any measure. The only reason we can set our own emissions regs is because Los Angeles was so heavily polluted in the 1960s and '70s. LA is such a unique environment consisting of millions of vehicles packed into a relatively small area which traps smog from escaping. It made sense to clean up the air then, and I don't think we should move backwards by letting it get dirtier, but so long as emissions continue to decline, I don't think there's a need for a separate set of rules. If anything, we should be regulating heavier sources of pollution such as factories and other plants. Big business has gotten away with far too much while cars have taken the brunt of the blame.
        Susan
        • 4 Years Ago
        @EB110Americana
        Unfortunately, there are a lot of business interests and even regular citizens who would be glad to let standards move backwards - for the sake of prosperity, of course.
          airchompers
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Susan
          I think these things need more intelligent legislation. Chiefly, I think fleets rather than individual cars should meet emissions standards. It'd be neat if Toyota could offer some gas guzzeling, smog spewing supra that's offset by all the Prii tooling around. I mean, so long as the fleet makes it, right? It'd encourage car makers to develop cheep technology for the high volume models and would let them develop special, low volume models because the cost would be lower. This would benefit the average consumer, whose clean car is basically subsidized by dirty cars, and would expand consumer choice. It's a lot like how CAFE works. In Old GM, they'd make the econoboxes pretty cheep to help them meet fuel standards for their denalis and XXL $50k pick ups.
        Rotation
        • 4 Years Ago
        @EB110Americana
        California does regulate the other sources of pollution you talk about. They cover ships, cars, lawn equipment, construction equipment, factories, charcoal and gas grills, just about anything you can think of. CARB goes after sources on a "low hanging fruit" basis. The largest polluters get the attention. Cars were the low hanging fruit for a long time. Now they go after all kinds of pollution sources.
      pinetree
      • 4 Years Ago
      I can certainly understand the desire for a single, federal standard. It removes complexity and uncertainty and makes it easier for manufacturers to plan for the future. I simply don't like the use of MPG as a way to measure a vehicle’s efficiency. Diesel may get greater MPG's, but it is more expensive. Ethanol blends will lower MPG's depending on the blend type. Future biofuels may not get great MPG, but it may not matter so much if they are renewable and/or efficient to make. For some energy sources, like natural gas, batteries or some forms of hydrogen, MPG may not even make sense at all. I'm worried that focusing on MPG's too much will act as blinders blocking out future technologies. I have to be honest, I don't know of any way to measure a vehicle’s efficiency other than MPG.
      amerifight
      • 4 Years Ago
      It is not that Ford/ Mulally wants to have more lax standards. He is trying to explain that a uniform standard would cut red tape and expense. Lets have the debate in Washington and hopefully they can help US business on this one.
        LUSTSTANG S-197
        • 4 Years Ago
        @amerifight
        Then comes the question of what that means to the consumers in less densely populated regions, and places where pollution is not much of an issue. It's great that the car companies would not have to worry about adhering to so many different states' standards, but who is to say California will not constantly be wanting to raise that national fuel standard and drag the rest of us along? I can see the benefits of one standard, but those are some of my concerns.
      Kent
      • 4 Years Ago
      What would be nice is if there was also a national fuel standard. Chicago has a funky blend for summer driving that adds to the cost of gas in Chicago and, in the case of some brands, rots out fuel injectors, especially GM fuel injectors on pushrod V-6s.
      Rudukai13
      • 4 Years Ago
      California needs to shut the hell up sometimes. Except on that weed issue...
      Dr. Aquafresh
      • 4 Years Ago
      Scientists need to figure out a way to break California off, and float it off into the ocean. Maybe it will float all the way to Japan, and then they can get their cars directly from the source.
        Drive571
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Dr. Aquafresh
        Totally dude. Because you don't derive any benefit at all from Silicon Valley, SF, LA, Hollywood, JPL, NASA, Google, America's major automotive design studios, or the world's 8th largest economy. Wyoming, f*ck yeah!
      RJC
      • 4 Years Ago
      Report: Mulally urges Capitol Hill to adopt national fuel standard Translation: Let's get them to accept the lesser of two evils that will cause us minimum change.
        A M
        • 4 Years Ago
        @RJC
        Yup. Plus, they're hedging their bets that a GOP government would roll back standards. That is a lot less likely to happen in California.
      Susan
      • 4 Years Ago
      We are incredibly lucky that California took the lead in automobile pollution standards 35 years ago. I remember US cities in the 1960s, and they were dirty and nasty, really nasty. The photochemical haze often obscured the horizon. Businessmen in New York often changed their white shirts mid-day because the collars and cuffs got so fouled. A few Tea Party types might scream about rolling back regulations, but no sensible person really wants a nation like that again.
      big fish
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have a better idea. Stop selling cars in california, when they lose all of that tax money to other states from the sale of cars and the taxes the dealers pay they'll change their tune and realize theres 49 other *better* states that arent full of wacko pinkos that constantly bitch about everything.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @big fish
        [blocked]
          • 4 Years Ago
          [blocked]
          rlog100
          • 4 Years Ago
          So you're saying the whole country needs to pay for emissions overkill because LA is a geographical anomaly. And, modern cars don't contribute to LA's smog problem anymore. You aren't going to solve LA's smog issues by putting even more burden on new cars. You're just going to drive cost for no reason.
          SteveO
          • 4 Years Ago
          First off, the article is about CAFE (fuel economy), not emissions. Secondly, I'm pretty sure that they're seeking to have the federal government tell California to STFU, not to increase federal levels to conform to Cali
      rjstanford
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sorry, but that's just such BS. First, California et al are large enough economies that addressing them is probably worthwhile. Second, the standards are generally reasonable enough that addressing the superset is quite possible. Finally, why is it that big business is all about "States' rights" when it comes to finding favorable places to incorporate, file lawsuits, et cetera, but then all about the Federal government when a State makes a decision that they don't agree with?
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