Why Trump Should Scale Back Auto Mileage Regulations

Authored by Gary Galles via The Mises Institute,

The Trump administration EPA and Department of Transportation have announced their intent to change the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard from what was decreed by their Obama administration predecessors. They were scheduled to reach 54.5 mpg in 2025. The new target will be 37 mpg.

The rationale being given the most attention is that reducing the CAFÉ standards would reduce automobile deaths. However, that is being panned by left-leaning critics.

For instance, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik characterized the plan as “dirtier cars are safer, so lets keep them dirty.”

Two days later, former Clinton and Obama administration member David J. Hayes was featured on the oped page (8/6/18) with a criticism titled, “Gas guzzlers won’t make us safer.”

However, while these (and similar) critical articles deride the possibility that reducing fuel economy standards from the much higher levels they would have been bumped to could increase automobile deaths (Hiltzik described it as “fatuousness” and Hayes termed it “baloney”), they not only misrepresent the arguments rather than examine them, they fail to consider the actual evidence for that “fatuous baloney.”

Consider the title, “Gas guzzlers won’t make us safer.” Not only is the conclusion asserted rather than demonstrated, but what gas guzzlers (a term Hitzlik also uses) is it referring to? Cars that averaged 37 mpg would be by far the cleanest vehicle fleet in American history. And the air is far cleaner than it was, meaning that the additional benefits from each further improvement is far less than in the past, undermining the argument for sharply more stringent standards.

Further, the logic such critics dismiss out of hand is hardly new or preposterous. It goes back to a famous 1989 Harvard-Brookings study that found that CAFÉ caused a 14–27% jump in traffic deaths due to the resulting car downsizing. An update for 1996 found that 2,700–4,700 automobile deaths, of 22,000 total, were attributable to such downsizing.

The arguments made in such studies are far from preposterous, either. When the higher costs of downsizing make newer cars more expensive relative to older, less safe cars, people buy fewer new cars, and increase the risks borne by such drivers and passengers. And if far better mileage lowers the cost of driving additional miles, the law of demand implies such people will drive more, other things equal. It is a matter of how large such effects are, demanding empirical research, not just a hand-wave of dismissal.

Both these writers echo the EPA’s January 2017 Final Determination, that the 54.5 mpg standard to be phased in “will have no adverse impact on automobile safety.” However, that contradicts the July 2016 Draft Technical Assessment Report finding that “mass reduction continues to be an important technology option … in meeting future … standards,” and the admission that there is a “relationship between vehicle mass and safety.” In fact, in 1992, a federal appeals court held that “the 27.5 mpg standard kills people,” but that the EPA had broken the law, using “fudged analysis,” “statistical sleight of hand,” and “bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo” to keep from admitting demonstrated increases in safety risks.

It is also important to consider evidence from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), whose research is intended to more accurately determine risks for companies with billions of dollars at stake, not justify a political agenda. Their April 2018, post on “Vehicle size and weight” focuses on the fact that “the bigger the crush zone … the lower the forces on the occupants,” in explaining the role of vehicle size and that, in a collision, “the bigger vehicle will push the lighter one backward during the impact. As a result, there will be less force on the occupants of the heavier vehicle and more on the people in the lighter vehicle,” to explain the effect of weight (bigger vehicles are similarly safer in single-vehicle crashes). In summary, “All other things equal, occupants in a bigger, heavier vehicle are better protected than those in a smaller, lighter vehicle.” Supportive evidence includes that in 2016, 1–3 year old very large cars had 22 deaths per million registrations, but minicars had 62. Small cars also made up a vastly disproportionate share of high driver death rate vehicles for the 2011–2014 model years. Perhaps most dramatic, however, was a study comparing hybrid models with their conventional counterparts. The occupant-injury rate for the hybrids, which weighed substantially more (10% in the study), was one-quarter lower.

Those who would roll back CAFÉ standards from an eventual 54.5 mpg to 37 have a much better case, while their opponents offer much more bombast. But there is a further question that should be asked, but can get lost in the politics — why do we need CAFÉ standards at all?

Nobody knows better than those who buy and fuel their vehicles with their own money what kind of vehicles are most appropriate for the circumstances they face. In particular, I see no evidence that politicians and bureaucrats know us better or care about us more than we do. Why can’t we be allowed to make our own choices in the face of the tradeoffs between mileage, carrying capacity, safety, etc.? And as must always be asked about such nanny state intrusions into our liberty, if we are deemed incapable to make such automobile choices with our own money (much of which is sucked off by government as proof of how much they care), how can we be capable of intelligently determining who our political representatives should be?


Shillinlikeavillan boattrash Thu, 08/09/2018 - 21:21 Permalink

In all actuality, we are at the engineering limits of conventional gasoline powered reciprocating engines(as far as fuel economy goes).

Squeezing more fuel economy is next to impossible, thats why they turned to turning cars into essentially plastic boxes on wheels.

The next step is not an arbitary, obama imposed "red line" to force automotive makers into creating more economic machines. This results in garbage, like trucks equipped with the do-nothing DEF injection system(There is a combination of crap going on: lean diesel fuel burn, along with the catalytic converter, DEF equipment, and regeneration equipment cause the engine to consume more diesel, resulting in a self-defeating process).

And now, because of feel good-politics, and federal bureaucracy, the regular car is being prevented from being more fuel efficient by an obsolete piece of feel-good environmentalism: the catalytic converter....


Wait, what?

Yes, the cat converter is obsolete. It was invented as a means to make carbureted/early fuel injected engines more "friendly to the planet" by converting carbon monoxide and unburnt fuel into water/oxygen. 


But that was back in 1975... We have come a LONG LONG way since then.


Now, fuel injected engines are advanced enough to burn clean WITHOUT a catalytic convertor... In fact the catalytic convertor makes our engines MORE DIRTY!


Wait! HOW!???


Its simple really: the catalytic convertor needs extra gasoline to "light off" or get warmed up to operating temperature, when its cold. Then you need a little bit of extra gas in order to KEEP IT WARM, and running at peak efficiency. The fuel injection computer in your car commands this extra bit of gas at preprogrammed conditions.

That little bit of extra gas just for the catalytic converter stacks up, and on top of that, the engine has to work against the catalytic converter as it is a small plug in the exhaust, causing a small loss of power. 


This all stacks up: Extra fuel for the Cat, extra fuel to the engine because it works against the Cat, and that equals:

Loss of MPG, more fuel to do less work, more of your gas money.... a self-defeating cycle....


So the solution is to remove the Cat.

But wait! If we remove the Cat, wouldn't that mean we are polluting the planet super duper hardcore???!!!???


Nope, today's fuel injection systems are badass... Much much much more advanced than their predecessors back in the early 80's and can actually burn gasoline CLEANER than their Catalytically handicapped counterparts. We know this for a fact because THE GERMANS ARE DOING IT, UNDER THE RADAR....


But our government is a relic of itself, and moves at the speed of a tectonic plate, and everyone in congress is so old and so slow that snails can outrun them, and its feel-good politics... never mind that its a self-defeating bullshit scheme to dupe you out of more money...


And oh yea, catalytic converters can contain a wide range of toxic metals, just like batteries being used in EV cars:



In reply to by boattrash

NoDebt Juggernaut x2 Thu, 08/09/2018 - 21:51 Permalink

Being a "car guy" since an early age, myself, I always wonder why nobody points out that government-mandated CAFE standards amount to a regressive tax?

There is no such thing as a "cheap car" any more.  They all cost many times more vs. average annual income than they used to.  

Part of this is safety standards (air bags, low-overlap frontal collision testing, etc.).  That is "fixed cost" type stuff.  It's built into the car from the factory and generally doesn't need to be messed with for the life of that vehicle.

But there is a more insidious part to all the tech needed to make your little shit-box knock down 42 MPGs on the highway.  Yes, it cost more to build it with all that stuff vs. more simple (but less efficient) systems.  I.e. it has a fixed cost component.  But here's what most people don't realize... all that tech also increases the MAINTENANCE COST of the vehicle.  No, not under warranty.  But when that whiz-bang tech goes haywire out of warranty, the cost to repair it can EASILY exceed the value of the vehicle!  Special computer diagnostic equipment is required just to DIAGNOSE many problems.  That costs bucks, and repair shops have to factor that into their rate.  Then you find that you've got a shorted-out Body Control Module (works you radio, gauges, interior lights, locks windows, rear defroster, etc.) and you could be looking at $800 just for the part.  A Transmission Control Module could be similar cost.  A whole new Engine Control Module same story PLUS THEY HAVE TO BE PROGRAMMED TO EVEN OPERATE IN YOUR CAR!  That requires yet another completely different computer system (plus license key) to accomplish.  You can't just buy it and plug it in.  It has to be keyed to your VIN.  Please note that ALL modern cars have no less than FIVE separate computers in them to control different functions in the car.  Most have more than that.  

Ask farmers who try to repair their own tractors/combines/harvesters.  They even launched a LAWSUIT because there was NO WAY to replace/repair all the various computer modules built into their farming equipment without going back to the manufacturers and paying their outrageous fees for these little modules and the licenses to activate them.

There is WAY MORE going on here than just CAFE standards.  We are all now driving cars that CAN NOT BE REPAIRED in any reasonably cost efficient way because of computer modules and (more importantly) the software and licensing required to install them, which is controlled in and ABSOLUTELY MONOPOLISTIC WAY by the manufacturers of those vehicles.

Who do you think are more affected by repair costs on an out-of-warranty vehicle?  The rich or the poor?


In reply to by Juggernaut x2

lock-stick NoDebt Thu, 08/09/2018 - 22:30 Permalink




•• Free This (ABOVE, in all his 7th grade glory - JACKASS  as new icon!)

•• beemasters

•• MoreSun (whacked, OH SO WHACKED!!)

•• Monad  (AnonQ Live Action Figure)

•• Adolfsteinbergovitch ("I TORMENT THE WOMAN WHO SUCKS DICK!")


•• Cryptopithicus Homme (bitcoin spammer - imaginary "friend")

•• Leakanthrophy (PORN for Jesus!)

•• Africoman

•• Sanctificado

•• PrivetHedge

•• Cheolli

•• bobcatz

dozens and dozens and dozens of banned log-on's -- more than seven years!


....and all the while, the pathetic little SPAMMER sits in his leaky, moldy, smelly single wide in Western New York, surrounded by garbage and dirty clothes, trying to find his dick amidst rolls of fat, talking to his ACTION FIGURES and wondering where his life went.





In reply to by NoDebt

Chupacabra-322 NoDebt Thu, 08/09/2018 - 22:26 Permalink


@ NoDebt,

“There is no such thing as a "cheap car" any more.  They all cost many times more vs. average annual income than they used to.”

“ all that tech also increases the MAINTENANCE COST of the vehicle.  No, not under warranty.  But when that whiz-bang tech goes haywire out of warranty, the cost to repair it can EASILY exceed the value of the vehicle!  Special computer diagnostic equipment is required just to DIAGNOSE many problems.  That costs bucks, and repair shops have to factor that into their rate.  Then you find that you've got a shorted-out Body Control Module (works you radio, gauges, interior lights, locks windows, rear defroster, etc.) and you could be looking at $800 just for the part.  A Transmission Control Module could be similar cost.  A whole new Engine Control Module same story PLUS THEY HAVE TO BE PROGRAMMED TO EVEN OPERATE IN YOUR CAR!  That requires yet another completely different computer system (plus license key) to accomplish.  You can't just buy it and plug it in.  It has to be keyed to your VIN.  Please note that ALL modern cars have no less than FIVE separate computers in them to control different functions in the car.  Most have more than that.”


Spot On.  Was watching an episode of “How It’s Made.” BMW’s M6 manufacturing.  The entire car’s subframe, Chassis & entire exterior of the cars body is made from thin Aluminum.  The roof made out of Carbon Fiber.  Modern day Automobiles are nothing more than Computer Controlled, overpriced, pieces of shit that surveil you. As well as put you in Debt. 

Most of the car is manufactured by automation & a couple of assembly line workers & some OCD inspectors who Circle minor defects in the cars thin aluminum exterior body panels that get immediately polished out.  The automated Spot welds on the subframe where impressive.  That gets inspected by one dude. 


Bang. Done. MSRP $122,125 starting price For a piece of German Engineering.  


Not to mention, these cars nowadays can be remotely taken over by hacking into its CPU ala Michael Hastings.  

In reply to by NoDebt

cbxer55 artichoke Fri, 08/10/2018 - 12:29 Permalink

I've had a code reader for several years. And on my vehicles, it's usually some el cheapo sensor that fails. Inlet Air Temp sensor (IAT), Idle Air Control Valve (IAC), Cam Position sensor, Crank Position sensor, Throttle Position sensor, DPFE, Coolant Temperature sensor, etc. Haven't had to change an o2 sensor as of yet, even in my 98 V-6 Ranger with 158,000 miles. 

My Ford Lightning has a supercharged V-8. Love it. 

In reply to by artichoke

jin187 NoDebt Fri, 08/10/2018 - 01:07 Permalink

That's the main issue.  They make sure to charge triple for anything to do with a computer, too.  Most of these so-called computers are about as powerful as pocket calculators, but replacing each one costs hundreds, or even thousands of dollars.  you could make an app to run your car with a relatively new smartphone, and still have enough resources left to play Candy Crush.  The dealer even wants you to spend $5-$10 per tire to reset the TPMS, which just amounts to putting all the tires on the car as normal(another separate charge), and pressing a button.

Out of warranty is meaningless as well.  Anything short of the engine block exploding is claimed by the dealer to "not be part of the powertrain"  That includes starters, fuel system, sensors, computers.  Even if the car won't start or drive due to these issues, it's not part of the powertrain.  No warranty for you.

I often wonder if I would actually save money in the long run if I got some naturally aspirated early 80's full size sedan.  Sure, it would get 15 mph, but there wouldn't be a single part on that car that can't be fixed with a repair manual, and a bit of aptitude.

In reply to by NoDebt

WallHoo New_Meat Fri, 08/10/2018 - 08:56 Permalink

How 'bout we dont let the "free market" decide cause why the fuck should we?


The "freemarket" will fuck one side of the planet and those that win will fuck off to a place(a gated place,quite,well maintained) to spend theire time while blowing coke and fucking hookers,at the same time all of us(non-psycopathic) "loosers" get to deal with all the shit that they have created.


To name some,cancer,violence,low trust in society,public squalor,crazyness,traffic,poverty etc...Even marrying a reliable person has become a herculian task.And to those that think a bachelors life is the future,fucking all the diseased riden zombies is equally hazardous...


Why would i let a bunch of morons with some money in their pockets decide how much me and my family gets polluted??Or anything?How about some scientific research,results,debates and mutually beneficial solutions?Is logic too much to ask?


The nature of the free market is accumulation to the top and all the crisis are simple interest riden economic(debt) cycles.So how can an unregulated "free"(chaotic) market give any solution to anything?When math is unrelending and empirical evidence from history itself is hardwired towards :


1.good king--->good years(first credit expansion period)


2.Eboldent king-->conquers new land and territory,slaves and riches(the credit cycle expand even more)


3.bad king-->bad years,everyone is trying to repay debts,the kingdom/country/empire falls in discort,territory loss.(the first buble burst of the debt cycle).Rich people become even richer since they are the only ones with any capital left.


4.Good king-->balances the budget,funds the army,repels ivasions,brings prosperity but its not the same as before.In reality the good king has starved all the remaining private sector and common people suffer,probably the nobility has taken extra privileges for themselfs in order to "help" the country...


5.And surprise surprise after the oh so good king,a BAD king...-->Deflation and credit contraction is in full swing,the private sector is spent from the previous king,the rich have bared themselfs and the poor grow restless,meanwhile barbarians put this once great kingdom in their crossfires.Nobody cares,theres no social cohesion,people begin to "inovate" new ways to make less money...Perversion and decadence sweeps in since...well...you know  muh "free" market and muh freedumps.Elites start being eaten up by their dellusional grandeur searching for foreign exotic goods that puts even more pressure to the balance of payments(trade).The country/empire/kingdoms eats itself and sends all remaing wealth for exotic imports.


6.Number six is tricky,either a strongman takes the reign of the country promising to anhilate the obvious perversions and degeneracy,while real matters like debt jubilee are going to be taken in consideration.OR...or barbarians will rush in,take everything and debts will be cancelled in order to start over the economic cycle...


Now in light of all that and since we know that inflation and deflation are a mathematica constant why the fuck should we leave the free market decide anything????

In reply to by New_Meat

VWAndy Shillinlikeavillan Thu, 08/09/2018 - 22:14 Permalink

 Bullshit there is plenty of meat left on the efficiency bone. Easily picked too. But I do agree with you on the regs being self serving and stupid + ineffective in the real world. They cherry picked the gases to measure. Rigged the testing by measuring % and not volume.

In reply to by Shillinlikeavillan

PrintCash VWAndy Fri, 08/10/2018 - 02:29 Permalink

I don’t need to look up sequential gear box, I have one on my driveway.  It’s called a motorcycle, but I certainly don’t want one on my diesel truck for towing.  And even if I did, it’s usable lifetime would be greatly reduced over the Allison that’s resides there, so all your “easy meat on the bone” goes up in smoke in energy to replace.  Same thing if you give your wife one, crash bang can’t shift, same result.  If car manufacturers had easier choices to grab all that meat you say exists, they would be grabbing it.  Truth is we are going to be regulated out of what we want, into what Johnny Bureaucrat wants.  

In reply to by VWAndy

VWAndy PrintCash Fri, 08/10/2018 - 13:35 Permalink

 I said cars and light trucks. Towing is not really what I think of as light duty. The Allison is actually a pretty nice unit. Not for a car. A proper sequential would be a big improvement if done well. 8 speeds would do it for me.

 Auto manufactures can and do whatever puts the most coin in their pockets. Like planned obsolescence. Hence we get the dreaded torque converters that kill mpg. Combined with poorly chosen ratios. A hybrid sequential/cvt would be a very nice way to do it. Sequential for accelerating and cvt for steady state would be great for drivers wanting mpgs.

  V motors suck. Small turbo motors being pushed harder are a much better choice. A sweet little inline four with a good turbo will do much better than turning off cylinders or shutting down the motor when stopped. Variable compression ratio is another good thing we should be doing. Its a shame the big boys did not embrace it until now. A few are finally getting into it. Mazda and Honda are. Atkinson cycle and HCCI are just the start of it. A simpler way to vary CR would better. I like a combustion chamber volume displacer. Its a simpler way to go. 

 Adding water/methanol injection to that? Boy howdy now we talking efficiency.  

 Yes there is more meat on that bone. Lots more.


In reply to by PrintCash

Manipuflation Shillinlikeavillan Fri, 08/10/2018 - 01:54 Permalink

Do you mean to take the cat off and let the engine breath freely?  That would create more horsepower and eliminate a downstream sensor.  We can't have that can we? 

Or can we?  I agree about fuel injection.  Hell, I don't even like mufflers save for maybe Thrush glass packs.  Straight pipes.  Might be a bit loud for the neighbors though.  My new neighbor has a Harley Whateverglide with drags on it and he starts it every morning at 5:45 AM every morning to go to wherever.  That is the kind of shit that makes you a douche and I own two Harleys.  I never fire mine until at least 8 AM.  Come on.  

Then there is the asshole across the street who put some kind of pipes on his bike and didn't tune the carbs so it backraps which means that fuel is getting through the valves and exploding in the pipes.  GOD IS THAT ANNOYING!!!  And that guy takes off about 7 AM.  

I have yet meet either of the two.       

In reply to by Shillinlikeavillan

pitz Shillinlikeavillan Fri, 08/10/2018 - 03:20 Permalink

Nonsense.  There are optimizations on petrol and diesel engines coming out all the time.  Engines are still way too large relative to what's really needed in most cars being sold in the United States.  Still lots of headroom with exotic materials.  Mazda or Nissan have a new petrol engine which basically can run in a compression ignition regime during high efficiency operation gaining the best of both spark and compression ignition engines.  Nobody is doing heat recovery yet, but that's another avenue to pursue. 

In reply to by Shillinlikeavillan

3-fingered_chemist pitz Fri, 08/10/2018 - 04:07 Permalink

Turbo engines are a form of heat recovery. But you're right. I would imagine thermoelectrics will make their way into cars eventually. Use the waste heat to create electricity via a temperature gradient to charge a battery to power the electric drivetrain perhaps. I think the barrier here is the materials just like it is in batteries. They are not good enough yet to warrant being promoted to the big leagues.  

In reply to by pitz

3-fingered_chemist Shillinlikeavillan Fri, 08/10/2018 - 03:41 Permalink

Mazda's new Sky-Active X engines use a spark plug when engine is cold/low speeds but use pressure to ignite the gas when engine is warm/high speed (like a diesel engine). They are reaching 40 % heat efficiency nearly double a conventional gasoline engine. Toyota has a new engine design that claims around 40 % too. Both engines are being integrated into certain 2019 models.



In reply to by Shillinlikeavillan

PrivetHedge Shillinlikeavillan Fri, 08/10/2018 - 06:47 Permalink

Squeezing more fuel economy is next to impossible

Although it's also quite easy. Hybrids allow an Atkinson cycle engine (more efficient, as used by Toyota) and smaller more streamlined cars use less fuel too.

Thinner tyres also make a difference, all the government needs to do is tax fuel more and the market will adapt. Sadly that tax money will just go on Israel's wars but what can you do? Make a law that congress has to approve any new wars?


In reply to by Shillinlikeavillan

JIMSJOE2 Shillinlikeavillan Fri, 08/10/2018 - 07:52 Permalink

European cars and trucks get much higher MPG than the US. Volkswagen makes a car that gets over 100 MPG but cannot be sold in the US. The bottom line is US oil does not want higher MPG and have killed every attempt to cut gas consumption even blocking and lobbying against mass transit and high speed rail. Even most emerging markets have mass transit not only in cities but from cities to cities. The US is like a third world country.

In reply to by Shillinlikeavillan

Shillinlikeavillan JIMSJOE2 Fri, 08/10/2018 - 20:56 Permalink

"European cars and trucks get much higher MPG than the US"

Thats because the vast majority use manual transmissions which are not only lighter but transfer energy more efficiently. Most US cars come with automatic transmissions which lose energy during the transfer in the torque converter and are heavier.


I am in reference to the gasoline engine strictly by itself, not the car...

In reply to by JIMSJOE2

Karl Marxist boattrash Thu, 08/09/2018 - 22:19 Permalink

We already have Grand Marquis in the form of every SUV on the market, bigger, uglier -- just rolling obstacles to safe driving because in a smaller car that already gets upwards of 40+ mpg (sans A/C and stop and go), you cannot see around these bulge mobiles. Shopping center parking in newer (80's upwards) are smaller and these huge pick-ups with extended cabs, monster SUV's and such, stick out and are up so high they can't see you backing out and you can't see beyond their huge ass sticking out. GM's EV was the actual solution. But you know Washington and them Saudis and Israelis and Rothschilds. Gotta fuck everyone over with their hideous ugliness of all things.

In reply to by boattrash

artichoke Karl Marxist Fri, 08/10/2018 - 00:01 Permalink

Yes, we had to dump the pillow-mobiles and get SUV's because they count differently in CAFE.  SUV's count as trucks.  Obama wanted to kill that loophole too, because he wanted us in shitboxes.

Fuck Obama.  But I'd really rather go back to a good body-on-frame sedan, and visibility for the small car drivers will be much better too.

In reply to by Karl Marxist