Do high mpg rules help or hurt American auto workers?

The Ceres coalition of investors and environmental groups began an advertising campaign Friday to promote the economic benefits of higher fuel-efficiency standards. The subtext is that Ceres is making a case for higher mpg standards because, it argues, they will be good in the long run for American auto workers.

Based on polling and research, the Ceres campaign made its debut on radio stations in Michigan and in Washington on Friday. An official said the ads are in response an Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers radio campaign that claims adverse economic impacts from strong CAFE standards.

“The facts are clear. A 60 mpg standard will restore American automakers to a place of global leadership,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Boston-based Ceres.

“Higher standards will create new jobs by encouraging automakers to build more of the fuel-efficient cars and trucks that drivers want to buy.”

The Clean Economy Network issued a statement Friday that dovetails with Ceres's findings.

"Strong fuel economy standards are good for business: they create American jobs, unleash technological innovation, and make the U.S. auto industry more competitive," said Tim Greeff, political director for the network.

"A strong, predictable standard — without loopholes like a 'midterm review' — will send a market signal that will deploy existing technologies and unlock private capital for cleaner, more advanced vehicle technologies, putting Americans back to work in parts of the country hit hardest by the recession."

The Ceres spots lead a campaign that will diversify into print and social media advertising catering to readers in Detroit Three territory and Ohio as well as D.C.

"Americans' overwhelming support for higher fuel-efficiency standards matches what is technologically feasible," said John DeCicco, a faculty fellow at the University of Michigan's Energy Institute.

DeCicco's "A Fuel Efficiency Horizon for U.S. Automobiles" report shows how optimal use of available and affordable technologies can push new fleet efficiency as high as 74 mpg, presuming adequate lead time.

In addition, analyses done for Ceres by Citi Investment Research and Management Information Services Inc. show:

1. 700,000 jobs will be created economywide in 2030, with 60,000 jobs the auto industry, under a 60 mpg standard.

2. Increasing industry average fuel economy to 42 miles per gallon by 2020 could raise industry variable profit by $9.1 billion, or 8%. Most of the added profit, $5.1 billion, could go to the Detroit Three.

3. Stronger mileage and greenhouse gas-emission standards will boost variable profits and sales in 2020 for the auto industry worldwide, with the Detroit Three seeing the biggest financial benefits. The Detroit Three’s variable profit gains would gain more than half of increased profits.

4. U.S.-based suppliers of key fuel-saving technologies – from turbochargers to direct injection, dual-clutch transmissions and more – will benefit.

5. The U.S. electric-vehicle industry is already robust and viable and will grow further under strong standards and other government policies that will boost demand for electric and plug-in-electric cars.

Polling paid for by Ceres of likely Michigan and Ohio voters shows 80% of likely Ohio voters and 76% of likely Michigan voters believe a national 60 mpg standard will encourage American car makers to innovate, boosting sales and protecting American auto jobs.

In Michigan and Ohio, almost 80% of likely voters overwhelmingly support the 60 mpg fuel efficiency standard. The biggest supporters are likely voters in Ohio auto-industry households.

Hawke Fracassa covers the auto beat form Detroit for You can reach him at [email protected] or at (248) 747-1550.

Image source: Photobucket / UAW

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