The Corner

He Who Pays the Piper…

The Obama administration says it is time to increase mileage requirements for cars and trucks. The auto industry is apparently on board:

In secret conversations, the Obama administration has lined up support from many state governments and a huge array of domestic and foreign automakers, including GM, Ford, Chrysler, BMW and many more. 

Auto executives are flying into Washington from around the world for the White House announcement.

Now, it could be that the administration is overstating the degree to which industry leaders support this plan — it has done that before. But if this report is accurate, it represents a pretty dramatic reversal for the auto industry. In previous years, the domestic automakers have spent millions opposing higher fuel-economy standards on the grounds that compliance would be ruinously expensive:

All in all, domestic automakers figure that it will cost them $83 billion to meet the new regulations, which call for a hike in the corporate average fuel economy to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. That would be a lot of money for prosperous Google or Berkshire Hathaway, much less an industry that is already losing billions of dollars.

Of course, paying for the new standards is no longer Detroit’s problem. It’s our problem.

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