Obama's Visit to DC Auto Show Highlights More MPG is Good for America

Tomorrow, the President is scheduled to visit the DC auto show and see firsthand the fuel efficiency technologies that are a key reason for the Detroit automakers remarkable rebound. As I said in a previous blog responding to last week’s State of the Union speech, the original clean car agreement the administration brokered in 2009 helped lay the foundations for the industry’s recover by putting fuel-efficiency product plans into high gear, just in time for last year’s record high gasoline prices.

I was in DC for the plenary session of the Society of Automotive Engineers DC Auto Show conference last week where I commented that year’s agreement to double standards to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg will ensure this rebirth of the U.S. auto industry as innovation leaders continues. (You can download my presentation to the following technical session here).

Last week was a busy time for environmental auto issues with Chairman Issa holding a hearing on the safety of the Chevy Volt. As I said in my blog last week and my E&E TV interview, unwarranted attacks on the Volt only serve to benefit oil exporting countries, at the expense of American workers.

GM’s CEO Dan Akerson put it better than I ever could when he testified when he said GM did not engineer the Volt to be a “political punching bag”. The next day, GM announced new a new TV ad that focused on the Volt workers in Hamtramck, Michigan. Yes, there are real jobs and real people’s livelihoods at stake here.

I also did a quick live web interview with John McElroy who hosts the popular Autoline TV show.  John and I probably don’t see quite eye-to-eye on whether 54.5 mpg will be good for the auto industry (see his blog here), but I really appreciate his willingness to showcase different perspectives. We had a great talk about the benefits of higher fuel efficiency standards, consumer demand and how the automakers will achieve 54.5 mpg. (You can watch my interview here. I’m at about minute 42).

Finally, my week ended on a high note when a colleague sent me an article about a new finding from none other than JD Power that fuel efficiency is the number one attribute new car buyers are looking for. Here’s a quote from their press release:

The study finds that gas mileage is the most influential reason for purchasing a particular vehicle model in 2012, surpassing the influence of other key reasons such as reliability, the deal and exterior styling, which were the most influential purchase reasons in 2010.

The President’s auto show visit should draw attention to how fuel efficient technologies, catalyzed by stronger standards, is moving the auto industry forward. And that’s good news for consumers, jobs and the environment.