Essay on Fuel Economy in American Automobiles

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Fuel efficiency in automobiles has become a topic of much discussion in recent years in the United States. This is due largely to the environmental devastation that fuel emissions cause, but it is also sparked by the rising fuel costs. Making cars with high fuel efficiency not only saves consumers money, but also will drastically reduce the pollution that is caused by emissions. Today automakers are putting a tremendous amount of effort into making their cars more fuel efficient, both to meet government regulations and to make their car more appealing to the consumer. During the late 1900’s, fuel efficiency was given very little thought by automakers. Instead, they competed with each other by coming out with larger and more powerful…show more content…
The first law that was passed to enforce this was the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which was passed by Congress in 1975. This law established a Corporate Average Fuel Economy program, commonly known as the CAFE program, and it required automakers to drastically increase the fuel efficiency of their vehicles. Consequently, by 1985, the average fuel efficiency of automobiles had risen to 27.5 miles per gallon, which is very close to what it is today (Bezdek 132,133). Because CAFE did not change the fuel efficiency standard until years later, by the early 1980’s most automakers had met the fuel efficiency that was required for their automobiles, so they started to pay more attention to the size and power of their vehicles. Instead of building cars with better gas mileage each year, they built their cars bigger and with more power, while keeping the fuel efficiency just high enough so that it met CAFE standards. Accordingly, the gas mileage of vehicles has not increased significantly since the 1980’s (Bezdek 133). In fact, the average fuel efficiency of new passenger vehicles steadily declined from the 1980’s until 2004. This was due to the loopholes which car manufacturers found in the CAFE standards. CAFE treated “light trucks” much more leniently than cars, and allowed them to have considerably less fuel efficiency than cars. This caught the attention of car manufacturers, who then looked at how CAFE defined a light truck. They
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