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EPA’s gasoline efficiency tests are garbage

Our government in action: The tests the EPA uses to establish the fuel efficiency of cars are unreliable, and likely provide no valid information at all about the fuel efficiency of the cars tested.

The law requiring cars to meet these fuel efficiency tests was written in the 1970s, and specifically sets standards based on the technology then. Worse,

[T]he EPA doesn’t know exactly how its CAFE testing correlates with actual results, because it has never done a comprehensive study of real-world fuel economy. Nor does anyone else. The best available data comes from consumers who report it to the DOT—hardly a scientific sampling.

Other than that, everything is fine. Companies are forced to spend billions on this regulation, the costs of which they immediately pass on to consumers, all based on fantasy and a badly-written law. Gee, I’m sure glad we never tried this with healthcare!

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


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  • Joe

    Other than the fact that the federal government is wasting money on this, I don’t see a problem with this, this is merely a yard stick applied to all auto makers the same way, I do think that mandates for 2025 were unrealistic considering that it takes a specific amount of energy to move a specific amount of mass, making cars and trucks lighter makes them less safe in accidents of all kinds. Cars and trucks these days are almost twice as efficient as cars just 25 years ago with considerably more power and reliability, YMMV. The only way the federal government could have met the mandate applied to auto makers was to mandate that all people driving bought only a specific model and that the manufacture of any thing that did not meet the 54.5 mpg mandate made illegal. Meanwhile technology is improving and cars will continue to get improved mileage and efficiency. The difference between a fifty mpg and fifty four mpg in both cost and emissions is miniscule.

  • Wayne

    It’s not a “yard-stick applied to all automakers,” it’s a Law.
    The “government” isn’t wasting money on this– they are making automakers waste OUR money.
    (and the entire premise is faulty– people don’t drive less when they get more mpg, they drive more.)

    If people actually wanted “50 mpg” cars, they wouldn’t keep buying 17 mpg trucks.

    Mark Levin on CAFE standards (10 minutes)

    Studies from Brooking’s, (no friend to Free Market Economics) indicated “2,000 to 4,000” people per year are directly killed in automobile accidents they would otherwise survive, save for CAFE “standards.”
    USA Today analysis in 1999 points toward “46,000” people killed since 1975, directly attributable to CAFE “standards.” (and that does not count seriously injured)

  • Joe

    Wayne, simantics, any money the federal government spends or causes to be spent is OUR money, not saying I disagree, I alluded to the less safe nature of small cars, listen to Mark Levin every night.

  • Wayne

    Joe– sorry, no problem. my comprehension error.
    You are absolutely correct & I should have acknowledged more clearly.
    The tests are bogus, but they are applied consistently across auto makers.

    Related tangent– the Volkswagen “clean- diesel” fiasco recently illustrates the onerous EPA regulations in place, in addition to CAFE mandates. They did break the Law & were deliberately deceptive, but they should not have been put in that position in the first place.

  • Joe

    Totally agree that EPA’s regulations are onerous and that they are dictatorial, in my mind this is a designed shake down of corporate America and in particular the auto industry, I also think that it is law fare in the same way that the justice department goes after the banking industry and the insurance industry.

  • Edward

    What the tests and the law does is not make cars that get better gas mileage, as driven. Instead, they encourage auto manufacturers to make cars that get better gas mileage as tested. The net result is that instead of buying the better mileage station wagon, we buy the worse mileage — but lower priced — vans, sport utility vehicles, and pickup trucks, which are exempt from the CAFE mandates.

    As with government mandated healthcare insurance, we end up getting the exact opposite of what we were promised by the incompetent, uncaring, greedy, dictatorial, big-brother, …*, government. As Joe points out, we get less-safe passenger cars. However, this comes at a greater cost to the consumer and the taxpayer. There is the possibility that the government’s intentions were good, but either way, we are (figuratively) driving down the road paved by them.

    * There are a few more adjectives, in there, but they are inappropriate for a family-friendly blog. I apologize to anyone who is offended by the suggestion of them.

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