People Want Better Fuel Economy as Long as They Don't Pay For It.

Public survey don't usually reveal all reasons why respondents answer they way they do, and this is no truer than those that ask about fuel economy.

Published: 05-Feb-2012

IMAGINE you are stopped in the street by a clipboard-toting pollster, who asks whether health insurance should automatically cover all necessary procedures and medication, with no restrictions or co-payments? Nine out of ten people (if not all) would instantly answer yes. But had the respondents been warned beforehand that they would have to stump up an extra $10,000 for such coverage, the answer could easily have been a resounding no.

Sad to report, this kind of selective polling—in which only the benefits are mentioned so as achieve a desired result—is cropping up increasingly in the support of various agendas. Substitute motor manufacturers for health insurers and fuel efficiency for medical treatment in the thought experiment above, and you have the kind of “grassroots justification” that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are using to push through a doubling in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) figure motor manufacturers must achieve or face stiff penalties. The new proposal requires the fleet-average for new vehicles sold in America to rise incrementally from today’s 27mpg (8.7 litres/100km) to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

The most effective endorsement for the new CAFE proposal comes from a national survey carried out last October by Consumer Reports (a highly respected non-profit organisation based in New York) which claimed that 93% of the 1,008 people interviewed by telephone wanted higher fuel economy and would pay extra for it. The survey results were released the day before the government announced its new CAFE proposal. Ever since, the poll has been considered hard evidence that the new CAFE proposal is widely supported by the American people.

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