Light Truck Loophole Bad for Pickup Drivers, Oil Dependency and Pollution

This evening, the WSJ online is reporting that the White House is offering automakers a big loophole in fuel economy and carbon pollution standards for light trucks, a category that includes pickups, SUVs and minivans. Opening up a light truck loophole would just throw away money, gasoline, and pollution savings. The biggest losers will be future pickup owners who will be saddled with thousands of dollars of extra fuel costs over the life of their trucks. 

According to the WSJ online story “White House Offers Auto Makers Concessions to Win Mileage Support” dated July 15th, 2011:

The administration this week offered several proposals to auto makers to break the logjam, according to people close to the discussions. One option would let the fuel economy of light trucks improve at a rate of 3.5% a year, less than the 5% annual improvement that would be required of passenger cars. It's not clear that the proposals will be part of any final deal.

While the U.S. automakers may complain that equal treatment for light trucks is bad for their profits, the opposite is true. By allowing big pickups and other light trucks to lag behind, the Detroit 3 run the risk of falling back into the bad habit that lead them to their downfall -- becoming too dependent on fuel-inefficient vehicles.

Ford’s F-150 Ecoboost engine demonstrates that even big pickups can be more fuel efficient.  The 40 percent purchase rate for the F-150 Ecoboost demonstrates that pickup buyers are willing to pay more to cut their gas bills. In fact, since light trucks generally lag behind the technology of their gasoline counterparts, these vehicles can improve at an even faster rate.

Equal treatment for light trucks makes sense. It will save truck driver thousands of dollars over the life of their trucks, cut our dependency on oil, and ensure the U.S. automakers don’t fall back into their bad habits.

About the Authors

Roland Hwang

Director, Energy & Transportation program

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