"Sierra Club pushes for better fuel economy and standards

As the summer driving season begins, Americans continue to feel the pinch of the country’s addiction to oil. Gas prices are topping their all-time record highs. In fact, Consumers Union testified before Congress last week that the average American family is spending $1,000 more on gas every year now than they were five years ago. That’s certainly enough to pay for the average family’s Memorial Day getaway, or perhaps enough to prevent them from taking one in the first place.

With fuel economy on everyone’s mind, the Sierra Club is launching its updated “I Want My MPG!” fuel economy calculator (www.sierraclub.org/mpg/) to help Americans understand how much they could benefit if automakers were required to use existing, affordable technology to increase the fuel economy of the cars, SUVs and other trucks that Americans drive each and every day.

“Making our cars and trucks go farther on a gallon of gas is the biggest single step we can take to save money at the gas pump, curb global warming and cut America’s dangerous dependence on oil,” said Dan Becker, director of Sierra Club’s Global Warming Program. “Americans need to know how much they could be saving if automakers were required to use existing fuel-saving technology.”

The technology exists today to make all new vehicles — from sedans to pickup trucks to SUVs — average 40 miles per gallon within 10 years. Raising corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards would save American consumers billions of dollars. Taking this step would also curb global warming emissions and help make America more secure by reducing our oil dependence by 4 million barrels per day — more oil than the United States currently imports from the entire Persian Gulf and could ever take out of the Arctic Refuge, combined.

The “I Want My MPG!” calculator allows consumers to find out just how much their fuel bills and global warming emissions would be reduced if we modernized CAFE standards. Consumers can enter their specific make and model, local gas price and the number of miles they drive each year.

“In his State of the Union speech, President Bush proposed a 4 percent annual increase in fuel economy standards,” Becker said. “It’s time for our leaders in Washington to deliver on that promise so that our cars, trucks and SUVs are guaranteed to average at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Unfortunately, the big auto companies and their friends in Washington are fighting hard to prevent this from happening. It’s time for our leaders in Washington to do the people’s business, not business as usual.”


Gas money

Raising corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards not only reduces global warming emissions and American dependence on oil, it also means consumer savings on fuel. Below shows the consumer savings for a range of vehicles paying today’s average (AAA) of $3.22 per gallon and driving 12,500 miles per year according to the “I Want My MPG!” calculator.

Make/Model, Annual Fuel Cost, Annual Fuel Cost with Modern Cafe, Lifetime Vehicle Savings

Ford Focus: $1,610 $1,025 $7,020

Nissan Maxima: $1,750 $1000 $9,000

Chrysler 300: $1,773 $1,014 $9,108

Cadillac STS: $2,516 $1,437 $12,948

Dodge Caravan: $2,013 $1,088 $11,100

Toyota 4Runner: $2,368 $1,259 $13,308

Ford F150: $2,683 $1,667 $12,192