Friday, November 02, 2007

CAFE Standards: The Debate Continues over RV Tow Vehicles

Congress is currently discussing an energy bill that will have significant impact on motor vehicle fuel economy requirements (mpg) and a consequent impact on RV tow vehicles. One of the key components of that bill is an increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which is the way the federal government regulates how many miles per gallon the car/truck companies have to get from their fleet of cars and light-trucks.

While most everyone now agrees that CAFE standards need to be increased, the Senate and House have not agreed on any specific language. In fact, the House is significantly divided. Speaker Pelosi wants to adopt the Senate passed H.R. 6 which would require 35 mpg by model year 2020 and would not maintain the separate fuel standards for cars and trucks. But there is significant support for a bi-partisan bill (H.R. 2927) sponsored by Representatives Baron Hill (R-IN) and Lee Terry (D-NE) which would require cars to get 35 mpg and light trucks 32 mpg by model year 2022. The Hill-Terry bill is supported by RVIA, RVDA, American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and many more associations and coalitions, including the automobile industry.

The RV industry has been asking for language in the bill, or at least the Committee report, that requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to take "towing capability" into consideration when they develop future CAFE standards. Additionally, the industry feels that it is very important to maintain the distinction between cars and light trucks. This distinction will help allow car manufacturers to produce a greater number of tow vehicles.
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