Old Gas Pumps
The bad news is that consumers will pay more for new cars -- even when inflation is taken into account.
Another bit of bad news is that the 54.5 mpg average is a fleet-wide average. Light trucks, vans, and SUVs will have to hit 44 mpg, while cars will need to reach a whopping 62 mpg. In other words, if you love your SUV, you won't see quite the same fuel savings as your sedan-driving neighbors. But then, you're probably already used to that.
Our super-unofficial inter-office poll reveals very mixed feelings about the new regulations.
On the one hand, some think that the market should determine demand for fuel-efficient vehicles. From that perspective, implementing regulations -- no matter how well-intentioned -- won't result in a country of happy, greener consumers. If people don't want these cars -- or worse, if they can't afford them -- they simply won't buy them. Some go so far as to argue that raising fuel economy standards will do nothing for our bank accounts or the environment without a simultaneous increase in the gas tax.
On the other hand, no matter where you fall in the global-warming debate, it's hard to argue that pollution is a good thing. And unless you work for the petroleum industry, you'd probably be happy paying Shell, Exxon, and others a little less.
The middle road would seem to indicate that regulation in moderation is a good thing. Too many rules, and you stifle growth. Too few, and you encourage chaos and disparity. The question is: do the fed's new regulations go too far or not far enough? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below.