Automakers support an “integrated approach” toward policy. Today’s issues need multi-sector approaches including the transportation sector, energy providers, the R&D community, investors, policymakers and consumers. For greater energy security, automakers must continue producing advanced diesels, hybrids and vehicles powered by biofuels, electricity and hydrogen. And, our country’s policy priorities need to be broad and include alternative fuels, the fuels infrastructure, R&D, investments, and consumers.
Automakers are offering consumers more fuel-efficient technologies. In 2012, more than 298 models are on sale that achieve 30 MPG or greater on the highway, according to www.fueleconomy.gov. Consumers have a wide choice of Alternative Fuel Autos on dealer lots, including hybrids, clean diesel and flex-fuel models, and diverse electric vehicles are entering the marketplace.
The Alliance supports raising fuel economy standards to the maximum feasible level. The automotive sector’s ability to contribute to the health of the U.S. economy depends on reasonable regulations that provide clarity and certainty, without pricing our customers out of the market or preventing them from choosing vehicles that can meet their diverse needs. Automakers support a national program for fuel economy and carbon dioxide that increases fuel economy, without negative effects on affordability, jobs, auto safety and the range of vehicle sizes that keep America working.
A single national program for fuel economy and carbon dioxide is a top priority. This national program avoids separate EPA, NHTSA and California standards, along with a patchwork of state requirements. Rather, it creates a single, harmonized program consistent for all automakers and consumers. The Alliance is now working with NHTSA, EPA and California in preparation for a proposal on a 2017-2025 national program for MPG and CO2.
New low-carbon, renewable fuels are drivers of sustainable mobility. The service station of the future will be providing more than just gasoline. Automakers support a widely available range of energy sources including biofuels, clean diesel, electricity and hydrogen to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation fuels.
Consumers are in the driver’s seat. When it comes to determining whether green technologies are successful or not, consumers are the decision-makers. For automakers to meet the new national MPG/CO2 standards, consumers will need to buy energy-efficient autos in large numbers. Consumers can make better decisions with the help of better price signals or incentives, along with improved information on technology choices and driving practices that reduce CO2. For example, by simply driving more efficiently and properly maintaining their vehicles consumers can improve their own fuel efficiency by an average of 15 percent.
Consumers value auto safety. So automakers have developed many of today’s significant safety innovations without a government mandate, including anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control (ESC), electronic roll mitigation, adaptive headlights, side airbags and curtains, front passenger safety belt reminder systems and advanced collision avoidance features.
Our roads are safer today. Despite the fact that the number of licensed drivers has more than doubled and annual vehicle miles traveled have more than quadrupled since 1960, fatalities and serious injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. are at their lowest level in 60 years and down 25 percent since 2005.
We still need to buckle-up. The safety belt is still among the most fundamental safety devices in any auto. The current national safety belt use rate is at 84 percent (as of 2011), yet even more lives could be saved if more people used safety belts. In 2010 alone, more than 11,000 lives might have been saved if people had simply buckled-up.
Addressing drunk driving is a priority. Every year alcohol-impaired drivers make just one-quarter of 1% of the trips taken in the U.S. by personal motor vehicles, yet these trips result in nearly 32% of the country’s motor vehicle fatalities. Through a $10 million, 5-year cooperative agreement with NHTSA, automakers are researching in-vehicle technologies to reduce drunk driving-related fatalities and injuries.
Automakers have long recognized risks from distracted driving. Digital technology has created a connected culture in America that has forever changed our society. Managing technology is the solution, and that’s why automakers developed Driver Focus Design Guidelines to help drivers keep their eyes on the road. The Alliance also supports banning text messaging or calling using a hand-held device while driving a vehicle.
Automakers support measures to protect children around autos. The Alliance led efforts to place Brake Transmission Shift Interlocks on all cars, which require the service brake to be depressed before shifting out of park and fuction in all key positions. The Alliance also led efforts to introduce pull-to-close power window switches and supports a NHTSA-established database of non-traffice related incidents. This will provide safety engineers with real-world data - a critical base for future safety enhancements.