Edmunds.com CEO to Congress: Listen to Consumers on Fuel Economy Standards
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — October 18, 2011 — Edmunds.com CEO Jeremy Anwyl told Congress last week that consumer voices were ignored when the Obama administration laid out its latest proposal for future Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, and that consumers are not on board with those standards.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration announced plans to raise the CAFE standard to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, which almost doubles the current standard of 30.2 mpg. Edmunds.com says that there is reason for consumers to be concerned that the high standards can only be reached through the development of new fuel-efficient technology that will likely drive vehicle prices higher.
Citing specific data gathered and analyzed exclusively by Edmunds.com and notable academics Dr. Ely Dahan and Dr. Anand Bodapati, Mr. Anwyl said that fuel efficiency accounts for only six percent of the typical consumer's decision to purchase a particular vehicle. This number climbs to just 15 percent for consumers in the heavily cost-sensitive segment of subcompact vehicles.
"Any study of actual sales makes clear that — for the vast majority of consumers — fuel economy is simply not their primary motivating factor when purchasing a vehicle," said Mr. Anwyl in his testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending. "It doesn't mean they don't care about fuel economy. It's just that other things are far more important."
The research suggests the price, aesthetics and functionality of a vehicle are considered far more heavily than fuel economy by most car-buyers today.
Mr. Anwyl pointed out that despite questions about whether consumers will be inclined to buy the next generation of fuel efficient vehicles, consumer voices were not included at the negotiating table where a tentative agreement about the vehicles was reached. Instead, a list of CAFE stakeholders prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consisted of special interests such as environmental groups, automotive firms, labor unions and electric vehicle charging firms.
"Consumers matter because responding to their needs is what drives innovation, and innovation is what should drive our economy," added Mr. Anwyl. "They matter because at the end of the day, they are the ones who will be asked to buy and drive the vehicles our government is potentially demanding that the car companies build. "
Mr. Anwyl's full testimony to the Congressional subcommittee is available online at http://www.autoobserver.com/2011/10/edmunds-ceo-gives-consumers-a-voice-on-cafe.html. Video of the testimony is also available at http://www.autoobserver.com/commentary/video/.
Another concern for consumers about the proposed CAFE standard is the core issue of safety. As manufacturers seek to meet fuel-efficiency standards, they will naturally strive to reduce the weight of a vehicle. Over the years, studies have generally shown that larger, heavier vehicles are safer than smaller, lighter vehicles in the event of an accident. Mr. Anwyl highlights this concern in a recent published commentary at http://www.autoobserver.com/2011/09/safety-over-fuel-economy.html.
About Edmunds.com, Inc. (http://www.edmunds.com/help/about/index.html)
Edmunds.com Inc. publishes Web sites that empower, engage and educate automotive consumers, enthusiasts and insiders. Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, launched in 1995 as the first automotive information Web site and hosts the most established automotive community online. Its mobile site, accessible from any smartphone at www.edmunds.com, makes car pricing and other research tools available for car shoppers at dealerships and otherwise on the go. InsideLine.com is the most-read automotive enthusiast Web site. Its mobile site, accessible from any smartphone at www.insideline.com, features the wireless Web's highest quality car photos and videos. AutoObserver.com provides insightful automotive industry commentary and analysis. Edmunds.com Inc. is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and maintains a satellite office in suburban Detroit. Follow Edmunds.com on Twitter@edmunds and fan Edmunds.com on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/edmunds.