Each year, a collection of auto executives, auto journalists, regulators, elected officials, stakeholders, researchers, and the usual suspects (a term I use affectionately) heads north to Traverse City, Michigan to mull the state of the industry. 

This year, I participated on a panel called, “Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Where does Policy go now? And, will the Market Follow?”. Believe it or not, peace may have broken out. 

Let’s take a look at the key takeaways from the panel:

  • The panel was aligned on the need to move forward together to get fuel economy and greenhouse gas policy done right.
  • There was agreement that one unified program is better than several federal and state standards.
  • There was willingness to think beyond the fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulations that are currently under review, and some panelists offered creative insight on how we might want to look at this issue in the future, including concepts for incentives to support the rollout of game-changing technologies.

Reason for optimism?  Yes, absolutely, but I don’t want to let optimism get the better of my judgment.  There’s a lot of hard thinking ahead of us.  The regulator-panelists were careful to say they were not indicating a policy direction of their political leadership, and industry representatives were careful to highlight the considerable market and technical challenges in moving to electrification or other zero-carbon transportation.  But there is an opportunity to negotiate a result that keeps everyone committed to one national program.