Auto Makers ‘Kill Two Birds with One Stone’

Thesis: Auto makers should get government credit for autonomous cars leading to reduced emissions.

Large auto makers are teaming up to try and persuade the government to give them credit for the cleaner environment and fuel efficiency that autonomous cars will create. This credit will be to count towards the corporate average fuel economy requirements that the government is forcing upon auto makers to try and reduce carbon emissions. These auto makers remain a long ways away from the stringent requirements that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency set to be reached by 2025. As Tom Krisher wrote in his article, Fuel Efficiency Standards, “The rules mean that all new vehicles would have to get an average of 54.5 miles per gallon [by 2025]… The requirements will be phased in gradually between now and then, and automakers could be fined if they don’t comply.” As Mike Spector wrote in the Wall Street Journal in his article, Self Braking Cars Are Safer, but Do They Boost MPG?, “Through the first two months of 2015, the average fuel economy of new light vehicles sold is just 25.2 mpg.” This means that these auto makers will have to more than double the current mpg standards in just ten years. This seems like a far fetched goal, which is why auto makers are fighting for these credits on autonomous cars.

Auto makers are arguing that “as safety features like automatic braking and adaptive cruise control become more widely available, traffic accidents are expected to fall. Fewer accidents will lead to less congestion and better traffic flow—factors that, when combined with speed management, could cut vehicle emissions by as much as 30%.” These improvements in the safety of driving cars will in turn lead to reduced emissions, which is why car companies should get credit. The entire purpose of the Obama administration’s decision to impose such strict measures was to reduce emissions, which will occur through these autonomous cars. While it may be a different, non-direct, route to reduced emissions, it is one that has many societal benefits. Not only will these autonomous cars reduce emissions, they will save lives! The government should encourage auto makers to make as much autonomous as possible to both reduce emissions and make cars much safer to drive. The government can should be doing all it can to encourage these auto makers to develop as many autonomous safety features as possible to achieve both ideal goals. The biggest argument against giving these auto makers these credits is that the government “contend auto makers are simply trying to get around meeting tougher mileage targets. They point out the auto industry has met requirements in previous years and shouldn’t get extra credit on fuel economy for making vehicles safer.” This viewpoint is confusing the underlying purpose of the regulations. As Tom Krisher wrote, “the regulations, will change the cars and trucks sold in U.S. showrooms, with the goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption.” Autonomous cars increasing safety leads to decreased traffic congestion are accomplishing the underlying purpose of these regulations. This is why the government should start giving credit to automakers for these contributions autonomous cars are making for society.

2 thoughts on “Auto Makers ‘Kill Two Birds with One Stone’

  1. Max Haskin

    While I agree that there are plenty of benefits to autonomous cars, there is also another side to the argument. As autonomous cars make driving easier, safer, and more accessible, isn’t it possible that those same benefits could lead to more cars on the road, which in turn could increase emissions?

  2.'Nathaniel Beck

    While I agree that autonomous cars will improve safety, the effects on fuel economy are present but only minimally. However, the development of better electric/hybrid cars will help to up the fuel economy. There are also many infrastructural issues that must first be addressed before autonomous cars make a real entrance.

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