Senate Pushes For 35 Miles Per Gallon



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Tuesday, May 8, 2007 - 7:15pm

Senate Pushes For 35 Miles Per Gallon

With gasoline prices moving over $3 per gallon with no end in sight, the U.S. Senate has decided to approve a bill that would raise fuel economy standards on automobiles.  The bill requires automakers to produce cars that average 35 miles per gallon by the year 2020.  Two Republicans and a number of major auto manufacturers opposed the bill.


 The current average for cars on the road is about 21 miles per gallon, so to get to 35 mpg in less than fifteen years is a steep challenge.  With sales of hybrid cars increasing, the average is getting better, but many of those cars do not even reach 35 mpg.  None of the hybrid SUV's have a combined (city/highway) mpg that high.  There are seven hybrid sedans for sale in 2007 and only four of them clear the 35 mpg threshold.  The Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry are the only hybrids that clear that figure. 


Even though most of these hybrids don't get more than 35 mpg, they do greatly improve upon the fuel economy standards in the United States.  I applaud the Senate for setting benchmarks for automobile manufacturers, but they also need to be realistic.  Pushing the companies too far too fast could do more harm than good.  The Senate would be better served by increasing the tax credit for buyers of electric and hybrid cars. 


It is still more expensive to buy a hybrid car rather than the gasoline counterpart, even after taking into account the future fuel savings.  Therefore, consumers do not have any financial incentive to buy the hybrid.  If the Democrats that control Congress would increase the tax incentive to where it is more cost effective to purchase a hybrid car, sales would increase dramatically and fuel economy standards would rise.  What are the chances that they do that?


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