Despite some intransigence in Washington, Tom Stricker of Toyota Motor North America believes improving fuel economy is a bipartisan issue.
“There is a broad national consensus across parties, generations, certainly in the industry to move forward; and making progress on fuel economy is vitally important,” said Stricker.
Automakers noted that broad support for fuel economy allows them to focus on improvements that will go beyond helping the environment by helping them be more competitive.
“Regulations have spurred innovation,” said Robert Bienenfeld, senior environment and energy strategy manager of the American Honda Motor Corporation, referring to the industry-wide embrace of carbon-reducing standards to meet the challenge of higher fuel efficiency and matching consumer demand for more efficient vehicles. Fuel economy is already rated as the most important factor for consumers shopping for a new car. That demand is integral to studies noting that President Obama’s fuel efficiency standards will help create more than 500,000 new jobs by 2030.
Still, the recently finalized fuel efficiency standards are on track to reduce carbon pollution by 6 billion metric tons and cut our country's oil consumption by 12 billion barrels, according to panelist and Assistant Administrator at the EPA Office of Air and Radiation Gina McCarthy. Thanks to hybrid electric and electric-powered vehicles, we could see even greater reductions in emissions and oil use.
Beyond that, consumers are driving an organic change in transportation behavior by simply driving less. The Information Handling Services lowered the forecast for automobile purchases for 2014 as the growing popularity of car sharing programs, well-planned communities, and public transportation systems means fewer cars are on the road - and less carbon pollution is in the air.