Those who follow the auto industry (and you’re one of them, or else it’s unlikely you’d be reading this post) took great interest in the Draft Technical Assessment Report on fuel economy released recently by the federal government. Reports on the 1,200 page report essentially distilled its findings to two numbers: 54.5 and 50.8.

The first number is what U.S. fuel economy, in miles per gallon, was supposed to average in 2025; the second is the revised target, due to changes in gas prices and consumer preferences (people are buying more light trucks than cars). Simple numbers make it easy for us to get a handle on an issue, but they can also mislead. And tomorrow we’ll be part of a panel discussion, along with the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.

At Global Automakers, we want the discussion about fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions to encompass a range of issues…

  • How do we enlist the consumer in the effort? Where are we headed with future technologies?
  • Is friction in the regulatory system inhibiting innovation and wasting resources?
  • Is it wise policy to try to force technologies that may not be ready (or consumer friendly)?
  • Shouldn’t we be looking more intently at how connected vehicles, the smart city movement, new models of car ownership and use, and infrastructure improvements can help us achieve our policy goals?

These questions will be key to framing the direction of the fuel economy/ greenhouse gas program going forward. I look forward to a lively conversation at CAR.