New Fuel-Economy Bill Draws Fire from Carmakers

By Paul A. Eisenstein, Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, February 12, 1991 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

New Fuel-Economy Bill Draws Fire from Carmakers


Paul A. Eisenstein, Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


IT'S back. And it's sending shivers through Detroit's executive offices.

Not a horror film, not a cold wave, not even a new assault by the Japanese, but the latest version of the Bryan bill. Sponsored by Sen. Richard Bryan (D) of Nevada, the measure would boost the fuel economy of the average American car to 40 miles per gallon (m.p.g.) within a decade. The bill nearly cleared the Senate last year. Now, sponsors say, the war in the Middle East is enough to garner the crucial swing votes needed to push it through.

"We're back, and this time we intend to win," Senator Bryan said recently. "We're going to fast-track it."

Formally known as the "Motor Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Act of 1991," the measure would require each carmaker to increase the fuel economy of its average passenger car 20 percent by 1996 and 40 percent by 2001. The effect would be a national average of 34 m.p.g. by 1996 and 40 m.p.g. by 2001. Currently, Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) is set at 27.5 m.p.g.

The measure would also require manufacturers to improve the fuel economy of their minivans, pickups, and other light trucks.

Not surprisingly, the Bryan bill drew immediate fire from Detroit. Tom Hanna, president of the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association (MVMA) - the lobbying arm of the Big Three - charged the proposal is "unachievable with any known technology."

Bryan's backers counter that they've heard the criticism before. Way back in the 1970s, when cars were getting barely 10 miles a gallon, the industry said it couldn't meet the original CAFE goals. Today, however, the typical passenger car gets at least 27.5 m.p.g., the current CAFE standard.

Forty miles per gallon is doable, says David Cole, director of the University of Michigan's Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation. But not easily, and certainly not cheaply. "The easier-to-play cards are already out of the deck," Mr. Cole says.

Just by improving tires and making cars more aerodynamic, the Big Three boosted fuel economy three or four m.p.g. But future increases will take billions of dollars of investment in new engines, transmissions, and lightweight materials like plastics and composites, Cole cautions.

And it is almost certain that to meet the 40 mile-a-gallon standard, tomorrow's cars will have to be significantly downsized.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

New Fuel-Economy Bill Draws Fire from Carmakers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?