Former DOT Secretary Sings “All We Are Saying is Give Diesel a Chance”
Describing electric cars as the U.S. government’s “flavor of the day,” Former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is leading a group of automotive suppliers to urge the Obama administration to put diesels on a level playing field with their plugged-in counterparts. This month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency will be unveiling the official legislation outlining how automakers are to reach a corporate average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Washington lawmakers have considered electric cars the “it” technology for high fuel economy. But they’ve seemingly forgone thinking of diesel cars as part of the solution, instead opting to grant electric car buyers a $7500 tax rebate. "There's a hidden cost to that—that ought not to be borne by the taxpayer," Mineta said in an interview with the Detroit News. In his report, Mineta added: “Given the current economy and job market, it is increasingly difficult to justify subsidizing a $41,000 vehicle with a $7500 rebate when its benefits do not fall on those in the lowest income brackets—those most in need.” What Mineta is referring to is the Chevrolet Volt, which lowered its price in 2012 to $39,995, including $850 for destination and handling. Meanwhile, a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI carries a base price of $23,295, including its destination charge of $770. Both achieve greater than 40 mpg in highway driving when using their engines, but the Volt can run 25 to 50 miles exclusively under electric power. The Volt is rated at 95 mpge in city driving when taking its battery power into consideration. In the report, which was also sponsored by diesel engine makers and suppliers BorgWarner, Robert Bosch GmbH, Honeywell and Umicore, the group also said that "the government is stifling innovation by using its considerable powers to push one technology ahead of other viable technologies, leading to distortions in both research and markets. "Our policy leaders appear smitten with finding a silver bullet that magically solves all of our problems and the focus is currently electric vehicles." Mineta is currently serving as the group’s lobbyist, pushing for representation in the government’s regulations. Diesel passenger vehicles have in recent years built a following, comprising almost half of several model lines sold by Volkswagen and Audi. In fact, the diesel market has been so successful that GM has stated that it will be selling a diesel version of its popular Chevrolet Cruze for the 2013 model year. In July, President Obama announced the government would be leading the enforcement of stricter fuel economy regulations with details to be hashed out this month. The auto industry supported it with the exception of smaller automakers, automakers with few trucks in their lineups, and Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, who both sell a considerable number of diesel engines in their U.S. passenger cars. Source: Detroit News
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