I was alerted to this piece of green pressure group PR via my friends at Greenbang. I know it’s easy to be critical but this is three steps away from the target. Let me explain.

The charity (1st) is encouraging individuals (2nd) to petition President Obama (3rd) to raise fuel efficiency targets for car and truck builders (4th). [OK perhaps it’s four steps away.] When, in fact  the power lies in the hands of the individuals to STOP buying large/large engined/thirsty vehicles.

My understanding is that vehicle manufacturers do not have a vested interest in producing thirsty vehicles, but they will do so if people buy them. Purchasing power would have a much more direct and almost immediate effect compared to the long term legislative route. And, as we now from the rise in SUV popularity, manufacturers and purchasers will find a way round the legislation if it suits them.

So what the message?  Well unfortunately it’s not them that is the problem and needs to take action. It’s us!

PS The report also cites a Consumer Federation of America commissioned a poll which shows that a “large majority (59 percent) said that the government should set the standard at 60 mpg by 2025”. The report also say that “the technologies necessary to achieve the goal of a 60 mpg by 2025 standard are already in hand, or soon will be” but unfortunately does not reference this claim. Of course you can buy cars now that do 60mpg but they may not be the type of cars preferred by the survey respondents. Asking people if they would like a benefit without citing the cost is not really evidence for a real world preferences.

There are certainly technical developments that will deliver reduced fuel consumption (harder throttle springs?)  but these are incremental. The biggest reductions are from the choice of vehicle and mileage. It’s the duty of technologists to tell people that (future) technology isn’t always the solution.