Auto Efficiency Standards Change Little; Auto Efficiency Changes Much — and New York Times Doesn’t Notice

Peyton Knight points out that the New York Times editorial page is so enamored by regulation, it has lost sight of reality:

The New York Times is worried that some of the most anti-energy provisions of the anti-energy bill, which Democratic House and Senate leaders are currently trying to finalize, might get scrapped for expediency’s sake.

Arguing in favor a significant increase in fuel economy standards for vehicles, the Times notes: “Efficiency standards have changed little in 30 years.”

More important than standards, however, is efficiency itself, which has certainly improved over three decades.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average fuel economy of the U.S. fleet of passenger cars in 1975 was 13.5 miles per gallon (mpg). In 2006 it was 24.6 mpg – representing a fuel efficiency increase of 82 percent.

In 1975 the average fuel economy for light trucks was 11.6 mpg. In 2006 it was 18.4 – representing a fuel efficiency increase of 59 percent.

Market forces have generated a wide array of choices that fit consumers’ preferences. Consumers who prefer a four-door sedan that gets 46 mpg, which is 11 mpg higher than what the Senate energy bill calls for by the year 2020, need only go buy one.

To contact author Peyton Knight directly,
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