Americans are moving past the days of screaming eagles and big pick-ups. That's what the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) says, and it has the survey results to prove it.

The CFA's 30-page "progress report" (PDF) indicates that folks are ready to embrace fuel-economy standards that will force automakers to reach a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) level of 54.5 miles per gallon (that's about 40 mpg in real-world terms). In short, about 60 percent of those surveyed called fuel economy a "very important" factor in their next vehicle purchase and are actually looking for a fuel economy boost of about 30 percent with their next set of wheels. Check out the CFA's press release below.

Vehicle popularity has moved roughly in tandem with fuel economy and gas prices since 2009. As one broad example, four-cylinder vehicles account for about half of new car sales today, up from less than a third in 2005. For another, last year, advanced power train and diesel vehicles jumped 63 percent to about 540,000 vehicles while plug-in vehicle sales almost tripled to almost 50,000 units. In May, 2009, average gas price in the US was $2.44. Today, it is $3.52.
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NEW RESEARCH: CONSUMERS EMBRACE NEW FUEL ECONOMY STANDARD, ARE PURCHASING MORE HIGH MPG VEHICLES, AND PLAN TO SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE FUEL EFFICIENCY IN FUTURE PURCHASES

First "progress report" on 54.5 mpg standard shows consumer demand strong, automakers meeting the challenge, and electrics gaining popularity

Washington, DC – Consumer demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles is high and the nation is well on its way to establishing a more fuel-efficient vehicle fleet, according to new research released today by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). The analysis, On the Road to 54.5 MPG: A Progress Report on Achievability, provides the first ever "progress report," on the response of consumers and automakers as both begin to experience the effects of the newly adopted 54.5 miles-per-gallon federal fuel economy standard.

"Looking at current market offerings, consumer purchasing trends and our surveys of consumer demand, there is no doubt that the federal effort to significantly raise fuel economy is benefiting, consumers, car companies, autoworkers and the environment", said Jack Gillis, report co-author who is CFA's Director of Public Affairs and author of The Car Book.

Poll: Consumers Strongly Support Higher Mileage Standards

A new nationwide poll, the first by CFA since the federal adoption of the new standard last year, finds that a large majority of Americans support federal government requirements to increase the fuel economy of new cars to 35 miles per gallon by 2017 and to an average of 55 miles per gallon by 2025 (using CAFE ratings). Top findings include:

Eight-five percent of respondents said they "support" the requirements, with more than half (54 percent) saying they "strongly support" the standard.
This remarkable support extends across the political spectrum, with 77 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of Independents and 92 percent of Democrats saying they support the higher standard.
Fuel economy will be an important factor for 88 percent of respondents in their next vehicle purchase (59 percent say it will be a "very important" factor).
Those who say fuel economy is very important expect to get twelve miles more per gallon (mpg) from their next vehicle than those who say it is not important.
Consumers intend to purchase even higher mileage vehicles going forward. Those who indicated that their current gas mileage was 24 mpg and who intend to purchase a vehicle in the future, expect a seven mpg increase, or to get 31 mpg from their next vehicle.
More than half (57%) of respondents who said they intend to purchase a SUV said they want its fuel economy to be at least 25 mpg.

"These results should lay to rest any concerns that some car dealers had about consumer demand for more fuel efficient vehicles," said Gillis. In spite of the support of car companies, unions, consumer and environmental groups, the National Automobile Dealers Association was the only major entity opposed to the new requirements.

Consumers Increase Purchase of Higher-Mileage Vehicles

The gas mileage of popular cars, pick-ups, and vans has increased significantly in the past few years, with the percentage of popular vehicles getting at least 30 mpg tripling. Comparing popular 2009 models with 2013 models, the new analysis shows that the percentage of vehicles getting at least 30 mpg rose from four to 12 percent. Over the same time period, the percentage of popular vehicles getting at least 23 mpg rose from 30 to 56 percent; and the percentage getting under 22 mpg fell from 70 to 44 percent.

In part, this increasing mileage reflected the growing popularity of four-cylinder vehicles. In 2005, less than 30 percent of the vehicles purchased had four-cylinder engines, and in 2012, nearly half of those purchased had four cylinders. "What is remarkable is that improvements in engine efficiency, driven by the standards and consumer demand, resulted in a significant increase in four-cylinder vehicles with little compromise in performance," said Mark Cooper, CFA's Director of Research. Increasing mileage performance is also reflected the growing sales of hybrid and electric vehicles, which have doubled in sales during the past four years to over half a million vehicles.

Electric Sales Promising

"Particularly significant is our examination of the current adoption curve related to electric vehicles. Despite what many media pundits would have you believe, consumer acceptance of those vehicles is higher than acceptance of hybrids when they were first introduced," said Cooper. "As battery technology improves and prices go down, there is no question that electrics will play an important role in meeting consumer demand for higher efficiency."

Consumer demand for higher-mileage and alternative fuel vehicles is clearly a function of the enormous impact that gas costs have on the average wallet. "In looking at what consumers paid for gasoline in 2012, we determined that the average car owning household spent $3000. That's 50 percent more than the total amount they spent on the energy costs needed to run their homes," said Cooper. "Our analysis has consistently shown that increases in vehicle prices are more than offset by savings from gasoline purchases."

Automakers Increase the Gas Mileage of the Vehicles They Manufacture

Spurred by the higher government standard and greater consumer demand, automakers are increasing the mileage of the vehicles they produce. Between 2009 and 2013, the percentage of total available models getting at least 30 mpg rose from one to nine; the percentage getting at least 23 mpg increased from 19 to 45; and the percentage getting less than 15 mpg fell from 15 to three.

"In part, this increasing gas mileage reflects the decision of automakers to improve the fuel economy of 'new series' vehicles – those with significant design changes. Each year from 2010 to 2013, the average fuel economy for these 'new series' vehicles increased – by an average of 2.2 mpg over their previous series," said Gillis. Over the past 6 years, there were even greater mileage improvements for many individual models. Standouts include the Chevy Malibu (went from 20 to 29 mpg), the Honda Accord (went from 24 to 30 mpg), the Nissan Altima (went from 26 to 31 mpg), the Ford Escape (went from 19 to 25 mpg), and the Ford Fusion (went from 21 to 26 mpg.)

In addition, many car companies have vehicles on the market that are already meeting the new standard. We examined the 2013 vehicles on a model by model basis. Looking at the 134 different car models available in 2013, 64 (49 percent) include a model that already meets the 2014 mpg standard. Thirty-two (24 percent) have a model that meets the 2017 standard and 12 models (nine percent) already meet the 2025 standard.

"The decision to reform and restart the fuel economy program has played a much larger part in triggering the increase in fuel economy than gasoline prices, although they matter too," Cooper said. "The impact of the standard and the dynamic response of the market are strong indicators that the long-term goal of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 is achievable and in the consumer and national interest, which is why it enjoys such widespread support," added Gillis.

To view a copy of the report: www.consumerfed.org/pdfs/ON-THE-ROAD-TO-54-MPG.pdf

The Consumer Federation of America is an association of more than 260 non-profit consumer groups that, since 1968, has sought to advance the consumer interest through research, education, and advocacy.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 33 Comments
      Aronopos
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Americans are moving past the days of screaming eagles and big pick-ups. That's what the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) says, and it has the survey results to prove it." LOL, must be a Government Agency trying to further Barry Soetoro's agenda using false data.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Aronopos
        Yeah man, its a conspiracy. It couldn't just be some private consumer lobby group that has existed for decades. #falseflag
        raktmn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Aronopos
        Yes aarhead_mt, you've uncovered the conspiracy! In a plot to take over the government 50 years later, evil socialists faked a black Kenyan's birth records in 1961 to make him look like he was a US citizen. Then 7 years later in 1968, Consumer Federation of America was formed to lay in waiting until Obama was elected 4 decades later as a part of the big socialist conspiracy... Just one question. Which pill did you take on your way down that rabbit hole? The Blue pill or the Red pill?
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Aronopos
        Ignoring how he said it, big pickups still sell quite well (best selling vehicles), and although I don't mind an eagle screaming, they are cooler when they just cruise around with serious looks on their faces.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          Well, those pick-ups are more efficient than in the past. But a lot of those buyers are going to regret those purchases a few years down the line. Some people need to learn the hard way.
      mikeybyte1
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am sure everyone surveyed loves the idea of better efficiency. Who wouldn't? But were they told what it would cost them in high tech engine and emissions controls? I bet if you said "would you pay $40,000 for that 2 door hatchback?" they would get very different results. The survey is flawed because it doesn't cover the entire issue. You can make any survey tell you what you want to hear. Just ask - or don't ask - the right questions. Personally, I feel like CAFE targets are the wrong approach. Just keep upping the gas tax. Cry all you want about taxes, but gas tax is meant to target infrastructure. Which is crumbling now. Furthermore, if you tax based on consumption then the market will drive people needing to spend less on gas to find more fuel efficient vehicles. And car makers will want to make those vehicles to win buyers. So don't force some massive MPG average on the industry. If people want to buy a V-8 Mustang or SUV and pay $5-6 a gallon let them. It's their money. I just find the tax will drive efficiency where it is needed.
        raktmn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        This may shock you, but people with doctorates in mathematics at the EPA have already done all the math, and no the average driver will not have to pay $40K for a 2 door hatchback for this program to work. So you are just making sh!t up out of thin air. In fact the story points out that there are already gas cars that meet the 2025 standard already today, without any of the doom and gloom exaggerated pricing BS you suggest. In reality, the average cost across the board is projected to average around $2500 thousand dollars to reach the current targets. And even if gas prices do not go up, average car owners will recoup this up-front cost many times over. And let's be very clear about what "up front" means. Very few people actually put down cash for the total purchase price of a brand new car. So the majority of people will see zero out of pocket costs, because higher lease or car payments each month will be offset directly by lower fuel bills each month.
        raktmn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        You can claim that gas prices will solve all the MPG problems until you are blue in the face, but the numbers do not lie. Try this. Take a graph of the average fleet MPG for all cars in the US. Now lay a graph over it of inflation-adjusted gas prices. Now overlay a graph of CAFE mandates. You will quickly see that there is at best a NEGATIVE correlation between gas prices and overall fleet fuel efficiency, with the overall trend showing they move nearly randomly against each other. You will also see an almost exact direct correlation between CAFE mandates and actual US fleet fuel efficiency.
          raktmn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @raktmn
          Paul, What you describe is a very good tool to change how much driving people do in a year. 100% of the people who buy gas will be in a position to decide exactly how much they drive with every tank of gasoline, so the incentive is direct. But it is a very poor tool to change the buying habits of the 4% of the US population that buys a brand new car in any given year. Having a gas tax that impacts 100% of the driving public every year, in order to impact the brand new car decision making process of 4% of the US population is a horrible connection between incentive and behavior. I went into it in detail below, but the majority of wealthier folks who already make irrational decisions to buy brand new cars will not suddenly become fiscally responsible because of a gas tax. See below for a detailed explanation. So when it comes to trying to change the fleet average MPG, the best way to do that is through higher CAFE mandates, which have an even stronger regulatory certainty. Because rising gas taxes really only are as stable as the underlying price of the gas itself. If taxes go up 1 dollar, and gas prices go down 1 dollar, all you have done is collect more taxes with zero incentive effect. The biggest thing to understand is that gas prices are a great hammer for changing how much people drive. And CAFE mandates are a great screwdriver for adjusting overall new car fleet MPG numbers. But using a hammer when you need a screwdriver is just as ineffective for selling cars as it is for repairing cars.
          raktmn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @raktmn
          One more attempt at an analogy. The more direct the link is between the tax and the behavior that you want to change, the more effective the impact. If bars have a problem with second-hand smoke, and you raise taxes on cigarettes, you won't solve the problem of second hand smoke in bars. It is a great idea for slowing cigarette use, but it doesn't stop second hand smoke in bars. A ban on smoking in bars solves that problem directly, and is the better tool for stopping second hand smoke, but it isn't going to reduce smoking outside of bars, so it is very ineffective at that. Now if there was a debate between which is better, a tax on cigarettes, or a ban on smoking in public places, there obviously would never be a real winner. Because both actions are effective at two very different things. I realize there is a natural tendency for people to look for a single silver bullet to accomplish everything. But CAFE rules and gas taxes are two very different tools, and choosing one or debating which one is better is just a trap set up to benefit people who want neither.
          paulwesterberg
          • 2 Years Ago
          @raktmn
          Gas taxes have not been increased uniformly over time in a market large enough to push manufacturers to focus on efficiency. If the government stated that gas taxes were going up 20-25 cents per year then people would know that in 5 years gas will be $1 more expensive(if gas taxes don't raise the price that much you can bet the oil corps will) a change of that magnitude would provide regulatory certainty(businesses leaders love that ****) and help consumers to plan for the future when they buy new vehicles. You could offset the increased household costs by lowering payroll taxes(automatic, no extra tax prep hassle & people get a small amount of extra money regularly when they need to buy gas.)
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        @ mikeybyte1 You are quite correct.v "Surveys" especially those by special interests groups are seldom reflective of real opinions. So many different techniques (some unintentional) can alter the results of surveys to produce wildly inaccurate conclusions. Even more sinister is the development of ' surveys' designed to influence, rather than record public opinion. When such polls are supported by 'media campaign managers', dedicated to flooding social media with seemingly, popular campaign disguised as individual, the authenticity of 'surveys' becomes very questionable. There has been a very concerted campaign for many years to reduce gasoline consumption. Along with the economic and environmental arguments, the average person has been the target of moral pressure on how to spend their money. Some of this made a great deal of sense in a world facing oil depletion, dependence on foreign oil, air pollution and 'climate change'. In turn this gave rise to the alternate fuel industries, smaller cars, and an enormous amount of government regulation, some valid, some less so, and some that created bigger problems than already existed. But it also created more bureaucracy, and government involvement. Outside of the US, gasoline tax is an important source of government revenue. Government have a right to tax, and manage the economy as they judge best. In turn governments must justify tax policies to the electorate. Consumption taxes, especially on luxury goods, have always been considered the most effective method of enforcing government policy. However, the idea that some taxes are more moral than others, is advanced by ideologues, who use taxation as a means of social engineering, rather than funding the government's to provide essential services. Taxation designed to produce social engineering, or 'moral' ideology, always fail once the majority of people start to question the validity of the results. The next step is to back the tax with 'mandates' and restrictive regulations. Sometimes such government intervention is necessary for public safety, but there is always the danger of such legislation being used to promote political ideology, and extremist agenda's. Remember the Volstead Act ? In recent years, many of the original assumptions regarding oil depletion, air pollution, foreign energy dependants, and the effects of climate change have been rendered inaccurate by rapidly amazing advances in technology. But the ideology of 'social engineering' remains, and supporters continue to pursue a campaign to prevent a reassessment of whether these regulations are still effective or relevant. But, be careful, because "people with doctorates in mathematics at the EPA ', must never be questioned by insignificant consumers, and voters like you ! All science and government policies must be subject to continual review, that's the very heart of representative democracy.
      mylexicon
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dear OPEC, Hopefully, you can find secure shipping lanes to send your stuff to China, and hopefully Sinopec figures out how to develop your fields without killing everyone and ruining your environment. With a bit of luck, China won't dissolve your monarchies and dictatorships and replace them with Chinese communist technocracy. Best of luck! Sincerely, Energy-Independent North America
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mylexicon
        Somehow I doubt china would tolerate much from these nations. With the exception of a little war no one knows about that china fought with Israel, people usually don't cross china. They play for keeps (if interested, look at china and Israel in Africa...good read....)
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mylexicon
        Nice fantasy. But there are several problems with it. 1) North America is not energy independent nor is that likely to happen. 2) Even if it did happen, that doesn't mean we are still not vulnerable to price increases from disasters in the mid-east. If the mid-east oil were shut off then China would turn to Mexico, Canada, and Venezuela for oil. And those places would sell it to the highest bidder without concern as to who the bidder is.
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Oil is a commodity, after all...
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mylexicon
        @ mylexicon I'm not quite sure that the US State Department or Office of the United States Trade Representative, would appreciate your isolationist desire to handover such large US trading partners and investors in the US economy to the Peoples Republic of China ! Nations like the UAE are important out-posts for US regional intelligence, and act as moderating influences on more volatile neighbours. The US felt so strongly about PRC influence in the Med, it blocked PRC ships from assisting Qaddafi from being deposed by French armed and led, rebels. Nor would the US like to lose the nearly $ 100 billion military equipment purchased by the Saudi's last year, or the other 120 billion dollars worth of American products. In all, the US sells Opec nearly $ 370 billion in manufactured goods, and receives 38% of all OPEC foreign investment capital. Be careful of what you wish for, there's always two side to every coin ! ( But, I'm sure the PRC would award you the Friendship Award Medal : 中华人民共和国友谊奖 ! :)
          mylexicon
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          The state department and other foreign policymakers are certainly troubled by the notion of oil independence and the de facto state of isolationism with the Middle East. Not my problem. They can find a new way to influence affairs in the Middle East. The US runs a big trade deficit with Saudi Arabia each year, usually around $30B. Total US exports to Saudi Arabia are generally between $10B-$15B each year. The military contracts you reference are spread over 20 years, and the price tag assumes that Saudi Arabia will exercise purchase options. Saudi Arabia are trying to improve the balance of trade with the US b/c oil imports in the US are plummeting, and we are going to cut orders from quite a few countries. I appreciate SA's gesture of good faith, but if we stop importing oil, we don't need them to buy our stuff. Some people would lament the decline in international trade if we became energy independent, but those are the same people who told us to import 12M bbl per day in the name of international trade. They don't necessarily have the economic security of the US in mind.
      throwback
      • 2 Years Ago
      "..the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) says, and it has the survey results to prove it." Have they looked at the sales numbers of light trucks? I'm sure every truck/SUV buyer would like their truck to get 54.5 mpg, while towing 11,000 lbs.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ready or not, they have them. It is too bad they are not ready for higher gas taxes though. That would be good policy to improve efficiency, raise needed revenues, reduce pollution, reduce the trade deficit, etc. But I know, people would cry.
        raktmn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Higher gas taxes will only work to change what the fleet average MPG of new cars will be, if the new car buyers face substantial cost, and have viable alternatives to buy instead. The problem is that the income of the median car buyer is 168% higher than the national median income. That means brand new car buyers are much more financially capable of weathering higher gas prices than the general public. Yet by far the pain of higher gas prices is felt by median wage earners. So higher gas prices are not a very strong incentive for New car buyers to raise overall fleet MPG averages. And used car buyers have zero say on what the average fleet MPG will be because they cannot choose which new cars get sold and become used cars years later. Let's face it, every financial expert out there will tell you that buying a brand new car is already an irrational and poor financial decision compared to buying used. So the very people we expect to make better financial decisions over what new cars are sold due to higher gas prices, are the same people who have already ignored all the existing financial advice against buying a brand new car in the first place. Why would we expect them to suddenly start making rational decisions based upon long-term fiscal decisions when most of them aren't doing that right now. If only fiscally rational cars were ever sold, about 3/4 of all the car models sold today would never have a market. Is a BMW M5 fiscally rational? A Cadillac STS? The vast majority of new car purchases are not fiscally rational. Pretending this will magically change with a gas tax is irrational. CAFE mandates are the only way to systematically and predictably raise fleet MPG averages. It adds the benefit of predictability for car companies who need long sales cycles to justify up-front investment in higher efficiency. Gas taxes are really only effective at limiting the amount of driving of the 80% of the population that never buy a brand new car ever in their lives. I have no problem with using gas taxes for that purpose. But trying to pretend a gas tax will replace CAFE mandates is irrational. It is like saying spoons are great for eating soup, so we should get rid of forks. CAFE and gas taxes are two very different tools for two very different jobs. Neither will do the job very well that the other is good at.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Funny that you don't bring up the 4 trillion dollar global subsidy for oil when arguing for reducing oil use. You instead focus on more taxes. You must be a big fan of all forms of taxation.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Most of those 'subsidies' are oil-rich nations giving their populations cheap gasoline, cheap electricity, etc. Not much we can do about those. However, even they are starting to realize those programs are a disaster. For places like Indonesia and Egypt that have become oil importers, the governments are saddled with programs they can't afford. And even for places like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, the programs have increased domestic consumption so much that their exports are dropping.
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          @rak I know this always angers you, but your 'fell and hit your head' comment made me LOL. you will kick yourself, but you brightened my day just a lil.... :-)
          2 wheeled menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          I only 'fell' upon some information showing that gasoline is heavily subsidized. We cant' do anything about foreign subsidies, but we subsidize oil in many, many ways here in the USA. And yes, we can do something about that. There are many reasons why alternative energy hasn't taken off and most of them point to oil barons working within our government. Gasoline can be more expensive and taxes can be lower to compensate. It is a shame that you would never bring up that possibility though and deny it is possible or probable. I guess we should just continue "bringing democracy" to countries that just so happen to have lots of light sweet crude hanging around and were trying to nationalize their oil industry.. I guess our invasion of northern Africa is just to keep the place safe from Kony, nothing to do with our oil interests there.
          raktmn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          "We cant' do anything about foreign subsidies" Sure we can. Drive vehicles that don't burn oil. Done.
          Vlad
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Gasoline is in fact heavily subsidized. Which does need to go, but does not negate the need for taxes.
          raktmn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Did you fall off your bike and land on your head?
        throwback
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Also raise the cost of living. It's not all wins.
        mylexicon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        You are quite incorrigible regarding gasoline taxes. No matter how many times people point out the flaws and social injustices, you just keep hammering away. Someday you will learn.
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Gas taxes disproportionately hurt the poor the most. Hmmm. Considering 47% of the population doesn't pay income taxes, raising the gas tax might be a way to raise much needed revenues. I am seriously flummoxed.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          They have poor in Europe, Canada, and Japan too . . . but they survive. Gas prices are going to go up no matter what we do so we might as well get people used to higher prices now and do something with the money here instead of sending the money to foreign countries.
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          :-) Spec...can you just imagine....JUST IMAGINE....if a republican proposed something like this, and them said, 'the poor will survive'? The left would apoplectic.... It would be just about the same as drawing Mohammed cartoons to a Muslim. Not that I am suggesting, endorsing, or even bringing that up. PBUH! But truly, I am flummoxed between not wanting higher gas taxes, as they would raise overhead for....everything....and of course, getting the poor to pay more taxes. If I go for getting the poor to pay more taxes, then you and I will be on the same side. We can go to the ranch where the horses are, and go for a ride with the country folk (who are self sustaining, btw), and then you can take me to a poetry slam on our way to an animal rights march, while eating croissants and drinking white wine.
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