Auto Industry Workers Say 35 MPG by 2020 Can Be Done

by Lorna Li
The Big Three Auto Makers in America – General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler – are spending millions to convince Congress not to pass a 35 mpg fuel efficiency standard in the new 2007 Energy Bill.
A large group of auto workers and dealers have broken from the industry in order to support the 35 mpg by 2020 fuel efficiency standard. As members of the American auto industry who have designed, built and sold automobiles in this country for decades, they state that 35 mpg is attainable with current technology, will, in fact, create auto industry jobs, and can help the U.S. end its foreign oil addiction.

Adam Lee, a third generation autodealer, makes this personal plea to the public to tell Congress that 35 mpg by 2020 is necessary for the survival of the auto industry.
“My family has been selling American made cars since 1936. My livelihood and the livelihood of over 350 employees who work for us depend upon the success of the automobile industry. Today that strength is severely compromised by the lack of fuel-efficient cars and trucks customers want to buy. …
Without a 35 mile-per-gallon mandate, I’m afraid, global warming and our dependence on foreign oil will continue to get much worse in the long run. And, in the short run, I’m afraid I’ll be stuck with a lot full of cars that no one wants to buy or even worse: This country will no longer have an American auto industry.”

Known as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standard, the legislative move to raise mileage for cars and light trucks to an average of 35 mpg by 2020 was, in fact, passed by the U.S. Senate in June. This is the first Congressional increase in fuel efficiency in 30 years, and yet the auto industry is pushing a counter-proposal of 32 mpg by 2022, which doesn’t seem like a big deal, until you do the math.
In their report titled Energy Bill Must Guarantee Real Oil Savings, the Union of Concerned Scientists calculated the difference between the 2 fuel efficiency proposals over time:
Barrels of Oil Saved Per Day:
– 500,000 Auto Lobby Proposal
– 1.2 Million Senate CAFE Compromise
Consumer Savings at the Pump:
– $11 Billion Auto Lobby Proposal
– $25 Billion Senate CAFE Compromise
Emissions Reductions
– 85mmt CO2 Auto Lobby Proposal
– 206 mmt CO2 Senate CAFE Compromise
As environmental and student groups lobby Congress, for stronger legislation on climate change and global warming, U.S. auto industry workers are lobbying for their livelihoods. Support a healthy and competitive American auto industry, by sending Congress this letter on behalf of U.S. auto workers.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

5 responses

  1. I hate to sound like a cynic, but 35 by 2020 is terrible! By using our brains we could have 100 by 2020 and, more importantly, change infrstructure so that there are other options besides the car (regardless of what it runs on). The Auto Industry Workers are just as myopic and corrupt as the industry management!

  2. Yes, but I think you’re far from even remotely realistic. Maybe if we were Holland or Finland or even Monaco, but I think that the land of the Muscle car during a time of plenty, money, and Ford F-150s, a mandatory 100 by 2020 is actually a little pipe dream. You’re not a cynic, you’re a realist. Even 35 by 2020 is going to be tight and probably going to be vetoed. So, please don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

  3. We just bought a Toyota Matrix, which runs at around 45mpg I guess, and have been questioned by many friends about why we would “downsize” from a minivan.
    Apparently they don’t see that you can rent a truck if you need it, rather than driving one round every day for the one day a year you use it to haul wood?

  4. I agree with you, Don. 35 mpg seems like such a low bar that for the U.S. auto industry lobby to make a big issue of it seems pathetic. Furthermore, for Toyota to side with the Big 3 auto makers on the 32 mpg by 2022 compromise seems like sheer betrayal, when the Japanese car manufacturer currently has the technology to achieve 55 mpg. However, I think this is a long term strategy of Toyota to gain market share from American car manufacturers. The Japanese tend to think long term.
    Just as a benchmark, average real world mileage is 46.8 mpg. But, as Chris pointed out, we can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. We gotta start somewhere, or we will be forever mired in indecision and inaction.
    Where industry fails us, citizens need to make more noise, so please do sign this petition and pass it on:
    Energy Bill 2007

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