Better Mileage Doesn't Mean The Death Of SUV
CNBC Auto and Airline Industry Reporter
For years, we've heard Detroit and other auto makers lobby against higher fuel economy standards because it would drive up costs and ultimately hurt sales of SUV's and pick-ups- vehicles Americans want.
They also happened to be the profit drivers back in the days when the Detroit 3 made a profit.
These days profits have evaporated and so is the silly suggestion SUV's can not be made more fuel efficient.
They can and will be under the new CAFE standards President Obamawill outline today at the White House.
Here's what auto makers need to do by 2016
- Raise fuel efficiency standards to 35.5 MPG
- Cars must achieve 39 MPG
- Trucks must get 30 MPG
That last requirement for trucks (which includes SUVs) is one that in the past would make the suits in Motown scoff. They would say, "you can't make a big heavy truck or SUV get 30 MPG." Funny, you won't hear that anymore. Nor will we see the death of the SUV that many of the "greenies" have been predicting. The fact is, auto makers will make more fuel efficient SUVs and those models will sell because it's a style of vehicle people want.
SUVs will become more fuel efficient through the use of lighter weight materials (steel, aluminum, plastics), lighter weight components (electronics, software) and dramatically more efficient engines (delivering 8 cylinder performance while only using 6 cylinders of gas). Sure, developing and implementing these changes means the cost of vehicles will go up another $1,300 from current prices. It's the price we have to pay for finally getting with the program.
And yes, we Americans will pay it.
As much as people bemoan how many many SUVs and big cars are out on the road, the fact of the matter is that Americans wants big vehicles. Sure, there is a growing number of people demanding compact cars, but the big rides still rule the road. Research shows people want size and power behind the road, especially if they can get it with better mileage. That's the reason these new CAFE standards do not mark the death of the SUV and pick-up trucks, but rather a new day for the big ride in America.
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