FILL HER UP
CAFE STANDARDS - Then and Now
MILEAGE STANDARDS THEN
CAFE standards, the minimum mileage that an automotive company’s fleet of vehicles must meet in order to avoid financial penalty, remained a mild worry at best by 2009. The consumer might have wanted improved mileage but price was once again the ultimate determinant. In a slow period, red tag sales on gas guzzlers (the Escalade comes to mind) were deeply enticing. The advertised price was only $46,000 and change. If financing were available, this lump of lead found it’s way into a soccer mom’s garage near you.
In 2009, as a trucker, status on the highway was important. Technology makes so much possible in new fleets of vehicles. Then as now, we have satellite navigation systems, hard drives for music (300gig then – iPhone’s now), blue tooth hands free entry and of course connectivity to the phone through the onboard stereo. The curious missing component was a drastic improvement in fuel efficiency. Then, cup holders over mileage took precedence with the automakers. It was easy to see why: if you shelled out all of a month’s savings for luxury, you wanted luxurious features. Wouldn’t it be crazy to demand and expect a higher standard on gas consumption when everything else was literally at your finger tips?
By 2009, the consumer was to blame for the mess in Detroit. Yes, the consumer not Detroit signaled to Detroit by buying/leasing foreign makes that Detroit should focus on foreign markets. Detroit could not beat the foreign competition on the home field because domestic consumers have high standards when spending so much. The price for foreign made products provided better reliability, better fuel efficiency and a better overall consumer experience.
By 2009, Americans understood the disastrous state the manufacturers were in. GM was bailed out with the goal of purging “extreme” costs and remaking brands – with tax payers dollars. FORD, the only company to not accept a bailout, turned the economy – and fuel standards to its advantage. Their hybrids compete and in some cases lead in both fuel efficiency and excellence in quality.
It is Spring 2015. Visit any Autoshow in America and one will quickly see where fuel efficiency is stressed. Consumer vehicles have clear standards. Commercial vehicles do not. The work horses of local commerce still are not required to meet a bare minimum mileage standard.