UCS is one of the groups urging the government to raise fuel economy standards by 40-percent within ten years, so painting the change in a favorable light helps them promote their cause. The automakers, for their part, say it will have the opposite effect on their industry. They tend to see more layoffs and plant closings with those kinds of new requirements in place. The UCS report sees more of consumers' money being diverted from fuel bills to consumer goods. Rather than spending so much of our income on fuel, the study assumes we'd be spending our savings on new technology, shopping, home improvements, dining out, entertainment and similar purchases, which could arguably be called an improvement.
[Source: Automotive News, sub. req.]